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March 23, 2023

Swedes are proud of their country

National Day of Sweden (Sveriges nationaldag) is a national holiday so observed in Sweden on 6 June every year. The day was renamed and justified as the national day by Riksdagen, the Swedish parliament, in 1983. Previously it was commemorated as Svenska flaggans dag (Swedish Flag Day).The tradition of celebrating this date began 1916 at the Stockholm Olympic Stadium, in honour of the election of King Gustav Vasa in 1523, as this was considered the foundation of modern Sweden.Some question the validity of this as a national holiday, as it was not observed as a holiday until decades later. However this event does signify the end of the Danish-ruled Kalmar Union, so in a sense it is a marking of Swedish independence, though the event occurred so long ago that it does not have as strong of a presence in the social consciousness as does, for example, Norway’s Syttende Mai (17 May).In 2005 it became an official Swedish public holiday, taking that honour from Whit Monday. This change led to fewer days off from work (more working-days) as the 6th of June will periodically fall on the weekend, unlike Whit Monday, which was always celebrated on a Monday. This has in turn led to complaints from some Swedish unions.Sweden has not taken part in any of the wars of the modern era, which may explain the Swedes’ somewhat guarded attitude towards celebrating a national day. They are proud of their country but don’t seem to feel any great need to show it. Previously, 6 June was not a public holiday, and for many people the only sign that this was a special occasion was the decoration of buses with Swedish flags.

Celebration with the royal family

Every year, the King and Queen take part in a ceremony at Skansen, Stockholm’s open-air museum, where the yellow and blue Swedish flag is run up the mast, and children in traditional peasant costume present the royal couple with bouquets of summer flowers.These days, special ceremonies welcoming new Swedish citizens are held around the country on National Day.The last time people in general took an active interest in Sweden as a nation-state was at the turn of the last century, when national-romantic winds were blowing through the country and folklore societies and local history museums were established. It was then that 6 June first became a day of celebration.

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