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Olsok (literally "Olaf's Wake" or "Olaf's Vigil") on July 29th is a national day of celebration within several Northern European countries. [1]


This is traditionally the date of the death of King Olaf II Haraldsson of Norway in the Battle of Stiklestad, east of Nidaros (Trondheim), Norway, in 1030. King Olaf was canonized by Bishop Grimkell in Nidaros on 3 August 1031. King Olaf's martyrdom at Stiklestad appears to have contributed decisively to establishing Christianity through the nation of Norway. He is remembered as Rex perpetuus Norvegiae, the Eternal King of Norway. Starting with the 900th anniversary of Stiklestad in 1930, July 29th has been an official flag day (Olsokdagen) in Norway.[2][3]

Until the Lutheran Reformation in the 16th century, Olsok was a major church feast in the Nordic countries. The late 19th and the early 20th century saw a renewed interest in Olsok, particularly in Norway. The Roman Catholic Church in Norway recognizes Olsok as a major feast all over the country, while the Lutheran Church of Norway commerates the day in Nidaros Cathedral as well as other churches.[4][5]

In the Faroe Islands, Ólavsøka ("Olaf's Vigil") is still recognized on July 29th dating from when the islands were part of Norway in the Middle Ages. In Denmark, July 29th is called Olai ("Olaf's Day"), in Sweden Olofsmässa ("Olaf's Mass") and in Finland Pyhän Olavin Päivä ("St. Olaf's Day"). In Savonlinna, Finland, July 29th is the biggest festival day of the summer, as Olaf was the patron saint of Olavinlinna ("Olof's Castle").[6][7][8]

See also[edit]


Other Sources[edit]

  • DuBois, Thomas Sanctity in the North: Saints, Lives, and Cults in Medieval Scandinavia (Toronto, 2008) ISBN 978-0802091307
  • Lynch, Joseph The Medieval Church: A Brief History (Routledge, 1992) ISBN 978-0582494671
  • Myklebus, Morten Olaf Viking & Saint (Norwegian Council for Cultural Affairs, 1997) ISBN 978-82-7876-004-8
  • Winroth, Anders The Conversion of Scandinavia: Vikings, Merchants, and Missionaries in the Remaking of Northern Europe (Yale University Press, 2014) ISBN 978-0300205534

External Links[edit]

  • The St Olav Festival [1]
  • The Pilgrim Way - St. Olav Ways to Trondheim/Nidaros [2]