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Smorgasbord

The National Day marks Sweden’s independence

Sweden’s National Day, which falls on 6 June, wasn’t a public holiday until 2005.                              

TEXT: Fabian Lundberg
15 JUNE, 2018

 

Since 1983, Sweden has celebrated its National Day (Sveriges Nationaldag) on 6 June. Prior to that, the day was, for more than 100 years, celebrated as the Swedish Flag Day (Svenska flaggans dag). However, the history behind the celebration is little known among Swedes even themselves.

It refers to the date on which Gustav Vasa was crowned king in 1523 which meant the end of the Danish-ruled Kalmar Union, so in a sense it marks Swedish independence. It also marks the day on which a new constitution was adopted in 1809.

Sweden made 6 June a public holiday in 2005 after years of resistance from the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, which argued that the addition of another public holiday would have a negative effect on the Swedish economy. A compromise was reached by having 6 June replace Whit Monday (Annandag Pingst) as a public holiday. This decision was highly criticised both by the church and labour unions, which argued that Whit Monday always falls on a Monday while 6 June does not necessarily fall on a workday.

The National Day is one of seven days in the Swedish calendar year designated as an official flag day, which means that the Swedish flag flies on all public flag poles, although the hoisting of the flags is not legally required.

As there are few traditions around this holiday, Swedes usually use the day to relax and socialise with family or friends.