Tag Archives: tradition

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/).

Did you know about the Swedish Christmas animal?

Christmas has just passed, okay, but Christmas is not only one day, rather we may say it’s about a longer period which is nestled in the cold European winter (even though in other parts of the globe, the season is the opposite).

Anyway, let’s stay in Sweden and focus on the Swedish traditions. I had the chance to observe how Swedes approach Christmas: darkness is faded by the lights that cover all the street and the houses in the cities; candies, cakes and other kinds of food and things that can sweeten the lack of sunlight; of course, how not to mention Santa Lucia and other habits!

But… surfing on the web I stumbled upon a strange and big Christmas animal.

A goat. Yes, a goat. You know what a goat is, don’t you?


Nope! Not this one. Scroll down.


Photo: http://meros.org/en/wonder/view?id=475

It’s a Christmas goat! And you can find it in Sweden of course! And no, sorry to inform you that you won’t find this goat roaming in the woods or in the cold Swedish lands. No. If you really want to meet this magic goat, you should visit Gävle.


Photo: http://np3fastigheter.se/var-hemmaplan/gavle/

It’s one of the most important cities in Sweden, and it’s situated in the Gävleborg County. I’ve to admit that I didn’t know this city before coming in this nordic country, but I’m glad to have found out where it is: it may be one of the destinations I’d really like to go to.

We were talking about the goat actually… I didn’t forget about that!

If the city of Gävle was a movie, the Goat – in Swedish Gävlebocken – would easily be recognised as the leading actor. Made of straw, the Goat comes from the Yule goat, a typical Scandinavian and Northern European symbol of Yule (an historical winter festival observed by Germanic people) and Christmas. The idea of putting a full-sized goat in the middle of the square has to be ascribed to Stig Gavlén in 1966. Since then, the Goat has been set up on the first day of Advent, every year.

Unfortunately, over the course of the years there have been cases when some vandals have tried, many times successfully, to burn the goat. Despite the efforts in order to prevent cases of fire, the Goat has been burned 36 times since the beginning of the tradition. Last November 2016, the Goat didn’t escape from another shameful attempt: an arsonist destroyed the symbol on its inauguration day, by using petrol.

I wonder why some people behave this way.

Anyway, tell me: have you heard about this typical Swedish tradition before? And, remember: you can always interact with the Goat here!



Featured image: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/04/gavle-goat-christmas-2013_n_4379179.html