Happy National Cowboy Day, everyone!
This final week of July is jam-packed with fun and interesting holidays, including my personal favorite, Olavsoka Day, which I will tell you about in a minute. Here’s how the week rolls out:
Today: July 25 (the 4th Saturday in July) is National Cowboy Day. Yee-hah!
Tomorrow, July 26 (the 4th Sunday in July) is Aunt’s Day. Thank the Hallmark Card Co. for inventing that one.
Monday, July 27 is Bugs Bunny’s birthday. The “wascally wabbit” first sprang to life on screen on this date in the 1940 Warner Brothers cartoon, A Wild Hare (http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x4053d_merrie-melodies-a-wild-hare-1940_shortfilms)
Tuesday, July 28 is Buffalo Soldiers’ Day. This day, first declared in 1992, commemorates the regiments of black soldiers who fought in the Civil War and subsequent wars and conflicts. (For a brief history of the Buffalo Soldiers, see this Archives.gov account: http://www.archives.gov/publications/record/1998/03/buffalo-soldiers.html.)
And Wednesday, July 29 is Ólavsøka Day! (See write up below.)
Thursday, July 30 is Father-In-laws’ Day….or is that Fathers-in-law Day? Whatever it is, it’s another occasion for Hallmark to sell cards.
Friday, July 31, is (as all J.K. Rowling fans know) Harry Potter’s Birthday.
And now for all who want to know what Olavsoka Day is…. Ólavsøka Day is the National Day of the Faroe Islands. What and where are the Faroe Islands, you may ask. The answer: The Faroe Islands are a self-governing democracy of eighteen islands, under the auspices of Denmark, located due north of Scotland, about halfway between Iceland and Norway, at 62 degrees of latitude (Thank you, Wikipedia.) The Arctic Circle is at 66.5 degrees north latitude, to give you an idea of how far north we’re talking about. The Faroese people – about 49,000 strong – are descendants of Vikings who speak Faroese, a language rooted in Old Norse and spoken nowhere else except among the population of these islands. Olavsoka, also known as St. Olaf’s Day, marks the annual opening of the Lagting, the Faroese Parliament. But anyone, anywhere can celebrate Olavsoka Day. You just need to learn the Chain Dance! It’s easy to do – so grab a bunch of friends, hold hands, and dance in a circle, or in swaying/stomping lines. It’s the singing in Faroese while dancing that will be the tricky part….
For a good example of the song and dance, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NMUn-92vo8. Or you can look up other examples by searching for “Faroese Chain Dance” on Youtube. Here’s another version – unfortunately, with rather poor lighting – but this one shows you the lyrics as subtitles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lL3e8doV9kI . The song in this video is called Regin Smiður and it tells a long story – in 131 verses!—of a warrior’s quest to slay a dragon. You probably won’t want to learn the whole thing, but the chorus, which repeats after each verse, is just four lines long, and surely you can learn to sing it time for the celebration on Wednesday. All together now:
Grani bar gullið av heiði,
brá hann sínum brandi av reiði,
Sjúrður vann av orminum,
Grani bar gullið av heiði.
Has any of this left you with curiosity to see the Faroe Islands? Mid-to-late summer is the perfect time for a trip. Here’s a sneak peek at what you might see:
Still Life With Robin is published on the Cleveland ParkListserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.