Saturday, June 09, 2007


All year I have been touting the great holidays of Sweden:

“Steeped in tradition.”

“A festive occasion of food, drink and song—something Swedes have been doing long before America was born.”

“Another celebration of the season marked by the annual [fill in blank] that’s been happening since before anyone can remember.”

So you would be right to suspect that a holiday like “National Day” would be another of these grand occasions where I would find myself singing around a bonfire while eating fish and watching the woman next to me with candles peculiarly perched on her head. But you would be mistaken. On Sweden’s “Nationalsdag,” nothing happens, except a day off from work.

The quick and dirty history of National Day is that it has only been an official holiday since 2005, only been a day of recognition 1983 and somehow is connected with Gustav Vasa, Sweden’s most beloved king and the official split with Denmark and subsequent constitution way back when.

So, until there is time for an entire culture to establish some traditions, Swedes (and their lucky guests) will just enjoy a day off from work and do whatever they feel like on Sweden's National Day.

As for me, an excursion to the classic Swedish summer town of Söderköping through the rolling and green Swedish countryside, which on this day was decorated with even more Swedish flags than normal, was how I celebrated my first Nationalsdag. Three friends, some renowned Söderköping ice cream, a small walk up a hillside for a great view and then back to Linköping for Swedish class—a well used day off from work to celebrate the nation of Sweden.

Pictures above:

1. Linköping's city hall with flags-a-flyin' on National Day.

2. Söderköping from a hillside outlook.

3. A typical Sweden spring & summer's day: water & boats, strolling Swedes casually enjoying the often-elusive sunshine and a line at the ice cream shop...Söderköping at its best.


ester said...

I hope you tried one of the ice creams att "Smultronstället", otherwise go back and do so. ;)
You better be hungry, otherwise you will not manage to finish your ice cream.... but I can be mistaken, as a matter of fact you are american. ;)

Östgöten said...

Gustav Vasa became king 1523 and Sweden hasn't been to war for about 200 years. Maybe that's the reason why we doesn't celebrate our National Day in a way as many other countries do. But it's nice to have a day of from work. :)

Hans Persson said...

Smultronstället is definitely recommended. I haven't had my yearly fix yet.

I see you also managed to make your way up to the top of Ramundberget in the sun. A bit sweaty, I guess. ;-)

Todd said...

Sounds this so-called National Day is merely a ploy by the behemoth greeting card industry to add to their greed, power and wealth.

Damn capitalists!

Anonymous said...

Actually, no. There are no Nationaldag greeting cards. It is merely a political statement: everyone else has a National Day, we must also have one. But since we have never been occupied, we can't celebrate our day of freedom like most other countries can.

But, thats Sweden in a nutshell ;-)