Young people, proudly wearing traditional clothing all the while unquestionably living modern lives with the newest iPhone tucked into the pocket of their woollen waistcoats, is not a common sight in the Western world today. Yet on national holidays and for other celebrations this is reality in the Faroe Islands.
Creative and aesthetic endeavours that sophisticatedly connect local cultural heritage to global cultural currents is what distinguishes contemporary Faroese youth culture. In the Faroe Islands, young people, more than any other societal group, master the art of coupling tradition with late modernity through cultural experiments in the fields of music, poetry, art and more. With ardent ambitions and self-confidence regarding lifestyle and career priorities, Faroese youth can relate to most other youngsters worldwide. Yet at the same time, they remain down-to-earth and firmly anchored in local communities.
Globalisation has indeed reached the Faroe Islands, but along with it, a revived interest in the Faroese past is surfacing. An example of this revival are the mounting reintroductions of medieval hymns and ballads, which local musicians are skilfully reinterpreting with new, creative and contemporary rhythms. The metal band Týr (so named after the Norse god of war), an illustrative case of the cultural blend, got its international breakthrough with an ancient ballad about heroic Viking chiefs. While preserving the lyrics and catchy tunes, they have replaced the old stomping and chanting with drums and electric guitars producing an impressive fusion of antiquity and modernity.
As young people in the Faroe Islands are used to taking own decisions, society expects them to administer their immense cultural freedom rationally. The majority are very active in structured leisure activities – sports, music, theatre and other performance arts, religion, etc. – where they form important social networks. They have generally become a very central part of society, vigorously provoking as well as inspiring.