Swedes celebrate their National Day on 6 June in honour of two historical events: Gustav Vasa being elected king (6 June 1523) and the adoption of a new constitution (6 June 1809). This day offers a rare chance to see Swedes waving the flag.
Celebration with the Royal Family
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.
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 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 6 June first became a day of celebration.
Sweden’s National Day – the origins
Since 1983, Sweden has celebrated its National Day on 6 June. This is the date on which Gustav Vasa was crowned king in 1523, which laid the foundation of Sweden as an independent state, and on which a new, important constitution was adopted in 1809.
The original idea came from Artur Hazelius, who founded the Skansen open-air museum in Stockholm and held a national day celebration there on 6 June as early as the 1890s.
At the 1893 World Fair in Chicago, Sweden presented Midsummer Day as a form of Swedish national day, so in the 1890s Sweden celebrated the occasion twice a year.
In 1916, 6 June became the Swedish Flag Day, celebrating the fact that Sweden had acquired its own flag following the dissolution of the union with Norway in 1905.
Photo: Emelie Asplund/imagebank.sweden.se
Public holiday for the first time in 2005
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.