The Faroe Islands have been a self-governing dependency of the Kingdom of Denmark since 1948. Over the years, the Faroese have been granted control of some matters. Areas that remain the responsibility of Denmark include military defence, police, justice, currency and international relations.
The Faroe Islands were politically associated with Norway until 1380, when Norway entered the Kalmar Union with Denmark and Sweden, which gradually evolved into Danish control of the islands. This association ceased in 1814 when Denmark ceded Norway to Sweden, while Denmark retained control of Norwegian colonies including the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland. The Faroe Islands have two representatives on the Nordic Council as members of the Danish delegation.
The literal meaning is “Saint Olaf’s Wake” (vigilia sancti Olavi in Latin), from Saint Olaf’s death at the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030 (see Olsok), but the Løgting predates this event. Like several other Faroese holidays, the vøka begins the evening before, so Ólavsøka always starts on July 28 with an opening ceremony.
Ólavsøka is the day of the year when many Faroese crowd into the capital Tórshavn. There the national rowing competition finals are held, which is one of the highlights in Faroese sports. In addition, there are art exhibitions, folk music, and Faroese chaindance performances.
The salute for Ólavsøka in Faroese is Góða Ólavsøku! (Good St. Olaf's Wake!).
Hammershaimb created his spelling system for Faroese in 1846. It was etymological, with the vowels based on written Icelandic, rather than phonetically descriptive (as in for example Welsh.) For instance, the letter Eth (Ð) has no phonemes attached to it. In this Hammershaimb had accepted the advice of the Icelandic independence leader Jón Sigurðsson, who had seen the manuscript for his "Bemerkninger med Hensyn til den Færøiske Udtale" (Notes with Respect to Faroese Pronunciation); Hammershaimb considered that despite its artificiality, this was the only approach that would overcome the problems of differing dialects in the islands.