How to Celebrate: Swedish National Day

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Swedes celebrate their National Day on 6th June, a day after Danes celebrate their Constitution Day, to honour two historical events: Gustav Vasa being elected king (6th June 1523) and the adoption of a new constitution (6th June 1809)…

Unlike Danish celebrations the day before, Swedes celebrate their national day with fervour. Though perhaps not as much as the Norwegians! Every year, the King and Queen of Sweden 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.

The last time people in general took an active interest in Sweden as a nation-state was at the turn of the century, around 1900, when national-romantic winds were blowing through the country and folklore societies and local history museums were established. It was then that 6th June first became a day of celebration.

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King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Sylvia attend National Day celebrations at Skansen in Stockholm

In 2004, the Swedish parliament voted to make it a public holiday, which may cause people to become more interested in celebrating it. The final decision took decades to reach − various proposals had been discussed under a succession of governments. There are also groups lobbying for the introduction of an official national pastry, and a national dish, and for the key-fiddle (nyckelharpa) to be made the national instrument. But even for ideas as innocent as these, arriving at a consensus has proved difficult.

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