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.
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.