St. Olav Festival / Olavsfestdagene

“You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.”
Winston Churchill

Olsok, Olav’s Wake, is a day on which the death of King Olav II Haraldsson (29th of July 1030) at the Battle of Stiklestad is remembered, as well as his canonization as a saint a year thereafter. This King Olav, Norway’s eternal king/Rex perpetuus Norvegiae (how very arthurian), is traditionally credited for being responsible for converting Norway to Christianity. And so yearly around the 29th of July, there is a celebration in the form of Olavsfestdagene where pilgrims come to visit Nidaros Cathedral, built upon the ground his remains were buried under.

Despite having lived in Norway a little while, I had not seen the events before. Since the weather was fair and rather pleasant, my husband, a friend and myself decided to stretch our legs and see what the fuss was about.

When we got there, it was packed with people of all ages. There seemed to be a fair amount of (Norwegian) tourists, most of them standing about Nidaros Cathedral, eagerly taking pictures of it all. I am assuming most people have one or more photos resembling the one above, featuring St. Olav with his war axe in his right hand, an orb in his left hand and, during Olavsfestdagene, a wreath around his left arm. Most of them probably have taken a photo of St. James the Greater in his pilgrim dress too as he is also granted the privilege of having a wreath about him. I however did not take such a photo because of the throngs of people underneath him. To the sounds of live music (children attending the music school here in Trondheim and doing outdoor performances), we moved on towards the historical market centered around the Archbishop’s Palace (next to Nidaros Cathedral). There people were dressed up, supposedly historical (rags and stuff, but with their sneakers on!) and bustling about in front of handmade wear of sorts. It was a bit difficult to take any proper photos with many people about, me not being that experienced in people photography (and not having a huge interest in people photography either) and stall owners having signs saying “NO PHOTOGRAPHS ALLOWED!”, so the uploaded stuff is the ‘best’ I could do…

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