Kalsoy Island, part of the Faroe Islands
© Swen Stroop/Getty Images Plu
The festival known as Ólavsøka spans several days, but officially July 29 is the big day of merrymaking on the Faroe Islands. What exactly are the Faroese people celebrating? Technically, they’re observing the death of Saint Olaf. The Norwegian King Olaf II is said to have died in battle on this day in 1030. A century later, he was sainted by the Catholic church.
Today, the Faroes are an autonomous territory of Denmark, but they have centuries-old ties to Norway, and the Norwegian influence of Faroese culture remains so strong, they celebrate King Olaf II with Ólavsøka—literally translated to ‘Olaf’s wake.’ Clear as the skies over the Faroes, right? The celebration includes a rowing competition, traditional Faroese chain dancing, and music everywhere.