Merry Sweden!

Today, the 6th of June, is the Swedish national day celebrations. Which is awkward. We didn´t use to have one, at least not so that anyone noticed. We used to be off at Whit Monday, and they changed that to 6th of June a few years ago, to the bewilderment and anger of some (most), who thought it was just a political scam to take from us a guaranteed 3-day weekend every year.

Thing is, Swedes don´t know how to celebrate their nation. They take it for granted, a bit like the English do. We have never been occupied, we have never had to fight for our freedom or our right to be Swedish. We have not been at war for more than 200 years. If we celebrate our Swedishness, it´s on Midsumer´s eve, which is one of our most important and loved holidays.

Our immigrants have led the way, I understand many of them are happy to be here, having fled oppression or poverty or both, and seize the opportunity to celebrate and express gratitude for that. But we are still not very good at it. It feels like a government scheme, like a dictate to make us grateful for what we don´t have, or never missed. We always hear how good the Norweigians are at celebrating the 17th of May, and what do they celebrate? Their freedom from the oppressive Swedish government!

Most Swedes can´t even sing the national anthem. We try it sometimes when we are abroad, and always get lost in the second verse. "I want to live and die in the North" - well, many Swedes dream of spending their old age in Spain or Thailand, to be honest. And to be "un-Swedish" is the highest praise. It´s means you are not taciturn and boring, but gregarious and fun.

Personally, I spent the day sleeping, in bed and on the sofa, with a break to go see mum-in-law at the hospital. Those who did celebrate will have had a great day, though, the weather is smashing, as it has been since Ascension day, practically. The bird-cherry has come and gone already. I hope summer continues like this!

When I read through the above, I realized something was missing, and I had to look up the reason why the 6th of June is our national day. According to Wikipedia it´s the day when Gustav Vasa was elected king in 1523 and Sweden became independent from the Danes. So we were under oppression after all, then. Too long ago, I´m afraid. Our years as a dominant European power in the 17th Century inflated our national ego, and I´m afraid that is long since forgotten. We have ruled the Danes more recently than they ruled us! 


  1. our 4th of july celebrations are fun, with cook-outs and fireworks; but if you have to encourage nationalism to get this kind of holiday, i don't recommend it. i'd much rather our country hadn't been at war in 200 years.

    i hope your mum-in-law is getting better.

    1. Alas, I never experienced the 4th of July celebrations. I started my exchange year the beginning of August 1983 and finished in late June 1984. Just missed it, which was a shame, really.

      I think Swedes are generally actually rather happy and grateful to be Swedish. They just don´t like to make a big show of it - which is also much in line with national character and custom. It´s not considered good form to push one´s own fortune in the face of others.

      And we went to see mum-in-law today, she is starting to look herself again. It is a relief!

  2. i think no war in 200 years is a kind of good fortune that we would benefit from having pushed in our face ;) a frequent reminder that this is possible would be a good thing.

    i'm glad your mum-in-law is looking back like she should. :) i never realize how bad it's been 'til i feel that sense of relief when i start seeing improvement.

    1. As much as it takes out of our elderly to be poorly, we mustn´t forget that it takes quite a bit out of us, too, being on red alert and fearing the worst for long periods of time. It´s important to allow oneself to crasch and recuperate once in a while, or we´ll end up useless to those who need us.

    2. after mother got back to her place, i realized that i should've taken the opportunity while she was being well looked after in rehab to go on a little vacation. it didn't even occur to me lol! i've been with her every day for 3 years, and i really should have taken the chance to get away. instead, i went out to see her in rehab every day. ah, well...