In spite of Sweden pastries, flags, and entertainment, Swedes aren’t much for celebrating their national day. They don’t gather the way Americans, Norwegians, and the French do. Why is that? Well, according to Swedish media, Swedes simply don’t have that much to celebrate. In Norway, May 17 is celebrated as the date Norway gained its independence, in France the 14 of July is celebrated because on that day the Bastille was stormed and the French Revolution started. And in the U.S. of course 4th of July is commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

”We haven’t been victims of oppression or occupation. We have never had to beat ourselves free. The big reason is that we do not have anything tangible to celebrate,” says Agneta Lilja, ethnologist at Södertörn University. Why June 6th then at all? Well, the background might simply be that the founder of Skansen, Artur Hazelius, during the 1890’s wanted a spring party.
”Artur was great at getting fundings. The choice fell on June 6th (for the party) among other things because it was the same day that Gustav Vasa was elected king,” says Skansen’s press officer Christina Hamnqvist. Agneta Lilja also points to other reasons that June 6th never really entered the Swedish folk soul. Partly it’s the Swedish reticence, but also waving the flag and singing the national anthem has other connotations in Sweden. ”We’re not much for cheering and parading. Swedes simply aren’t that public,” Lilja explains.


(More on June 6, Nationaldagen)