Swedish National Day – “Celebrate, or not to celebrate, that is the question”
Today is a sunny day in Sweden. Why don’t go out and enjoy the sunlight while… celebrating the National Day? Yes, today, 6 June, is a working-free holiday here in Sweden. And the reason is that Swedes are going to be proud of their country and wave flags all around the street, chanting the national anthem (where you won’t hear either the word Sweden or Swedish), eating/drinking typical and traditional dishes/beverages, being cheerful all day long and happily ‘forgetting’ about the reality for some hours.
Wrong. Swedes actually do that, or almost everything said above, but not today. This will happen in some weeks, in the second half of June, when time for the most important and desired and awaited day for all Swedes will come: Midsummer.
So, what do Swedes do on 6 June, the National Day? Well, they are supposed to celebrate it, but how many do that? How many do feel to imitate their well-known Norwegian neighbours’ celebrations?
The Swedish National Day was established by the government only few decades ago, in 1983. And, to be precise, only a bit more than ten years ago it became a red day in the calendar. The need to create such a day stems from both the willing to give a sort of continuity with a traditional former celebration called “The day of the Swedish flag” (Svenska flaggans dag), and to match somehow the more famous and cherished Norwegian Constitution day honoured every 17 May.
The choice to celebrate the 6th of June as a National day may be related to the fact the in the very same day, back to 1523 AD, Gustav Vasa was elected king of Sweden – that indeed put an end to the union between Sweden and Denmark; moreover, in June 6, 1809 a new constitution was adopted. What happens in Sweden nowadays is that there are colorful processions of national pride joyfully accompanied by marching bands and important people giving speeches. For those of you who are not aware of it yet, Sweden is constitutional monarchy, so there are a king and a queen. They take an active part during the celebration: in Stockholm, leaving the Royal Palace, they reach the famous outdoor museum Skansen.
Anyway, going back to the main point: yes, it’s the National day then. But what do Swedes do!? They are known to be not so patriotic – you may normally see many national flags waving in the streets or outside their houses, in institutional places or even on public transports; however, celebrating their nation is not their favourite thing to do. Another reason may be associated to the fact that many could put on the same level patriotism and right-winger supporters. Last but not least: if you ask a Swede which day he/she is proud of and longing for, you would probably hear (as mentioned before) Midsummer.
Actually, according to a study conducted by the University of Gothenburg, in the last years there has been “a significant increase in interest in celebrating National Day. Participation in other holidays is stable.” (The Local). And a good reason to celebrate this day may come from people who become de facto Swedish citizens: most of immigrants and expats receive their certificate of citizenship on June 6 – the king and the mayors throughout the country welcome officially the new Swedes.
Celebrating or not, it’s holiday: happy national day, and grattis Sverige!
Sources: https://www.thelocal.se/20170605/why-more-swedes-are-celebrating-national-day; http://www.swedishfreak.com/holiday/swedens-national-day/; https://www.thelocal.se/20150605/why-dont-swedes-care-for-the-national-day; https://sweden.se/culture-traditions/national-day/
Pictures: Featured image (http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=5882611); picture 2 (http://www.scandinavianperspectives.com/uncategorized/sweden-national-day-celebration-june-6th); picture 3 (http://shazzerspeak.com/2011/06/06/strange-swedish-national-day/).