Nº59 ÓlavsøkaNú Ninja Helga Mjöll
Ólavsøka is a national holiday in the Faroe Islands to commemorate when Løgting (the Faroese Parliament) opens its session, celebrated for over 900 years. The literal meaning of Ólavsøka translates to “Saint Olaf’s Wake”. The festival celebrates the late king Olaf Haraldsson II of Norway who died in the battle at Stiklestad in 1030. It was said that his death contributed to the Christianisation of Norway, and as a result the Faroe Islands as well.
Although the holiday takes place every July 29th, the cultural and sports festival is celebrated for several days. Known as the biggest summer festival in the Faroe Islands, the holiday has a variety of events including boat races, football matches and more. On the day prior to the official holiday, the capital of the Islands, Tórshavn, holds an opening ceremony. This is where athletes from local clubs, Tórshavn city council members, bands and horse riders parade up and down the streets. The 28th is also the day where the finals of the rowing competition take place. Additionally, for several years now the city has even hosted an Ólavsøka Concert on the 27th.
On the official holiday, the Faroese people celebrate in the city with friends and are often found dressed in their nation’s colourful dress. The cultural festival highlights traditional Faroese chain dancing, ballad singing, concerts, as well as art exhibitions. The chain dance is for everyone and is normally held in Sjónleikarhúsið, a theatre in Tórshavn. Many are also able to explore and enjoy traditional Faroese dishes and foreign food during the festival with the variety of restaurants opened late.