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Celebrating Olsok

In Norway we have had a tradition for celebrating Olsok in memory of Saint Olav. Olav Haraldsson fell at Stiklestad on 29th July in 1030. Olsok is a Catholic tradition, and the Lutheran Church in Norway especially celebrates Olsok in Nidarosdomen, the Cathedral in Trondheim. The Play of St. Olav is a wellknown festival in Trøndelag, and it takes place at Stiklestad where Olav Haraldsson fell in the battle. This barbarian viking had the great aim, to make Norway to a Christian country.

His memory is still celebrated through Olavsvaku, the night between 28-29th of July. Since Norway was a Catholic country after the Christianity, the celebration was a more hidden celebration after the reformation. People went out in the nature, to summer mountain farms (small cabins) and celebrated with bonfire, folksmusic and dance.

In modern times the Play of St. Olav in Trøndelag is a special celebrating of St. Olav, and the cultural heritage is taken care of, and people can join this celebration as audience in the play. I would love to see the play one day, and I also would like to attend the service/mass in Nidaros Cathedral, which is given the night between the 28.-29th of July.

Nidaros Cathedral was built as St. Olav's tomb dedicated to Christ. Many churches in Norway, as well in the Nordic Countries, are dedicated to St. Olav.

St. Olav became the Nordic region's first and most popular saint. In Uppsala in Sweden, he became the holy main saint next to St. Erik. St. Olavschurches were built in several places in southern Sweden. I didn`t know this before I studied Swedish language and literature in Uppsala. In Sweden St. Olav is called St. Olof, and both Olav and Olof are common names in the respective countries, Norway and Sweden. Uppsala Cathedral is decorated with Olavfigures, and there is a staty of him inside the Cathedral. St. Olav had a sentral place in the Nordic countries at that time.

This year we have not celebrated Olsok, but sometimes we go to the cabin and have bonfire and barbeque. I think it is rare that people celebrate Olsok in private settings in Norway today, but it is a great day in our history.

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