Monday, June 7, 2010

History of National Day Celebrations

Sweden has not taken part in any of the wars of the modern era, which may explain the Swedes’ somewhat guarded attitude towards celebrating a national day. They are proud of their country but don’t seem to feel any great need to show it. Previously, 6 June was not a public holiday, and for many people the only sign that this was a special occasion was the decoration of buses with Swedish flags.

Every year, the King and Queen 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.

Since 1983, Sweden has celebrated its National Day on 6 June. This is the date on which Gustav Vasa was crowned king in 1523 and on which a new 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, and it was subsequently proposed that this arrangement be officially sanctioned at home. As Hazelius organised Skansen’s national day festivity at the end of spring, Sweden celebrated the occasion twice a year in the 1890s. In 1916, Hazelius’s idea was officially adopted and 6 June became Swedish Flag Day. The name celebrated the fact that Sweden had acquired its own flag following the dissolution of the union with Norway in 1905.

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