Foreign visitors to Tórshavn during the Ólavsøka festival on July 28th to 29th invariably notice the widespread use of traditional Faroese costumes. The increasing popularity of the colorful costume in the last one to two decades or so has made wearing it almost mandatory as it were for a growing proportion of the Faroese — in connection with special occasions, not least the national holiday.
Any keen observer will also notice that the national costumes are not completely uniform but rather give room for quite an amount of variation. Some of the key pieces of garment can be black, blue, red or green for that matter, whilst, for example, the male shirt, adheres strictly to white as standard color. You could add, much like the shoes, which are invariably black with silver buckle.
And silver, for that matter, features quite prominently on most of the garments, in the form of buttons, for example.
Perhaps, in a way, the striking beauty and variety of the traditional Faroese costume pays homage to the way the Faroese nowadays celebrate Ólavsøka — in high spirits and relaxed, dressed for a very special occasion. And it’s all inclusive, high and low, men and women, young and old, children and grownups.
And this holiday, on many accounts, can be seen as the high point of the year for the Faroese people, with all sorts of events taking place from sports to music to visual arts, to a whole range of gatherings — cultural, religious, political, and what have you.
Ultimately, the weather, as ever in the Faroe Islands, has the joker card. On the 28th it was perfect, yet on 29th heavy rain reduced the number of people venturing outside to take part in the midnight sing-along, usually a major event gathering thousands of people.
Indeed the Faroese celebrate in their own jolly and peaceful way, dancing the night away, or just strolling up and down the streets of central Tórshavn to have a chat with long lost friends, relatives or acquaintances.