St. Olav's Day

St. Olav's Day

July 29
The feast day of St. Olav (995-1030), also known as Olsok, was at one time observed throughout Norway, although today the primary celebration takes place in Trondheim. It commemorates the death of Olav Haraldsson—the second King Olav—at the Battle of Stiklestad in the year 1030. By 1070, work had begun on Nidaros Cathedral, which was erected over King Olav's grave and drew crowds of pilgrims during the annual Olsok days throughout the Middle Ages. Although it is said that King Olav did not display many saintly qualities during his reign (1015-28), he was responsible for introducing Christianity, and legend has embellished his reputation over the years, so that today he is also considered the champion of national independence.
St. Olav is the patron saint of Norway, and his name is identified with the highest Norwegian civilian decoration. The anniversary of his death is still marked by religious services, fireworks, and public merry-making. Every year the battle in which he died is reenacted by a large and colorful cast, occasionally drawing a well-known actor such as Liv Ullman, during the St. Olav Festival in Trondheim.
In the Faroe Islands, this is known as Olavsoka, or "St. Olav's Wake," a national holiday. Parliament opens on the 29th, but the festivities—that include dancing, rock concerts, sports events, speeches, drinking, a parade of members of Logting (parliament) to the church for a sermon then back for the opening session—begin the night before and continue into the early hours of the 30th.
CONTACTS:
St. Olav Festival at Trondheim
P.O. Box 2045
Dronningens gt. 1B
Trondheim, N-7410 Norway
47-7384-1450; fax: 47-7384-1451
www.olavsfestdagene.no/en
Faroe Islands Tourist Board
P.O. Box 118
Torshavn, Faroe Islands FO-110 Denmark
45-3558-00; fax: 45-3558-01
www.visit-faroeislands.com/?Language=EN
SOURCES:
AnnivHol-2000, p. 124
BkHolWrld-1986, Jul 29
FestWestEur-1958, p. 154
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 451
OxYear-1999, p. 311
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