Sweden’s National Day

Tomorrow, June 6, is Sweden’s National Day – a Swedish July 4th, if you will.

King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia.

King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia.

Given the county’s long history it was rather late in coming. It is a labor holiday with celebrations around the country and special ceremonies for the induction of new naturalized citizens. It is a formal remembrance of the day in 1523 when Gustav Vasa was crowned Sweden’s first king and the day in 1809 when Sweden adopted a new constitution (Grundlag, or basic law), which included the establishment of civil rights and liberties.

At the 1893 World Fair in Chicago, Sweden presented Midsummer Day as a form of Swedish national day. In 1916 June 6 became Swedish Flag Day, celebrating the fact that Sweden had acquired its own flag following the dissolution of the “union with Norway” in 1905. The Swedish Riksdag (parliament) voted to make June 6 a public holiday as nationaldagen (National Day) in 2004.


King Gustav’s and Queen Silvia’s family. Royal wedding in a few days.

As a side note, “union with Norway” is government-speak for the result of Sweden’s last war in 1814. Norway declared independence from Sweden, so the Swedes invaded Norway and created a “union”. Sweden has been a regional aggressor with claims to Norway, Denmark, Finland, the Baltic States, Poland, and beyond. Sweden had colonies in present-day Delaware, a few in Africa, and a few in the Caribbean. Sweden owned Saint Bart’s for almost 100 years until they sold it to France. A bad real estate decision, given Swedes’ present day obsession with finding warm beaches during winter months.

To be fair, Denmark also did its fair share of invading and conquering over the same period.

The initial enthusiasm for National Day was tepid among native born Swedes. Some thought the nearly universally celebrated Midsummer already served that purpose. Others were hesitant to encourage nationalistic or ethnocentric emotions, given that they had replaced an aggressive military history with a more neutral world-posture.

Sweden’s National Day is one of only two non-religious holidays. The other 15 are expressly Christian or have origins in pagan traditions. Here is a list.

Public holidays 2013
New Year´s Day
Epiphany Eve
Epiphany Day
Good Friday
Easter Sunday
Easter Monday
May Day
Ascension Day
Whit Sunday (Pentecost)
Sweden’s National Day
Midsummer´s Eve
Midsummer’s Day
All Saints´day
Christmas Eve
Christmas Day
Boxing Day
New Year´s Eve
Jan 1
Jan 5
Jan 6
March 29
March 31
April 1
May 1
May 9
May 19
June 6
June 21
June 22
Nov 1
Dec 24
Dec 25
Dec 26
Dec 31