In 2004, the Swedish parliament voted to make it a public holiday, which may cause people to become more interested in celebrating it. The final decision took decades to reach − various proposals had been discussed under a succession of governments.
There are also groups lobbying for the introduction of an official national pastry, and a national dish, and for the key-fiddle (nyckelharpa) to be made the national instrument. But even for ideas as innocent as these, arriving at a consensus has proved difficult.
Independence Day in Sweden is celebrated annually on June 6. This national holiday is also called the Day of the Swedish Flag and has a long history—and two reasons for the date. The date is based on the crowning of the first Swedish king nearly five centuries ago and the adoption of the country’s constitution in 1809.
Though the day was, indeed, observed nationwide throughout the 20th century, the government didn’t officially recognize National Day until 1983. Even then, the date didn’t become a national holiday until 2005, when the country first marked Independence Day/Flag Day as a national holiday, with schools, banks, and public institutions closing for the occasion.
Indeed, though the king and queen of Sweden do usually celebrate National Day at Skansen, the well-known museum in the nation’s capital, in 2017, they took a holiday from the holiday. Oh, they still celebrated Flag Day, but just not at home: They were on vacation.
They celebrated National Day in the small Swedish city of Växjö, where the royal couple were honored guests and enjoyed the music of Joakim Larsson, a member of the Småland’s Opera. Have no fear though: Once the royals took their leave, the music and Flag Day fun continued, with plenty of activities for kids, and food and drink for the adults.
Though they may not be as dutifully patriotic about observing their independence day as U.S. citizens, who reverently mark July 4th, for example, Swedes still like to celebrate, and National/Flag Day gives them the chance to do just that.
It is held on June 6th, the date on which Gustav Vasa was crowned King in 1523 and the day on which a new constitution was adopted in 1809.
The main ceremony on nationaldagen is led by the Royal Family and takes place at Skansen. The Swedish flag is run up a mast and then children in traditional peasant costumes present the King and Queen with bouquets of summer flowers, often in yellow and blue!
One reason the date of 6 June was chosen because it is the day in 1523 when Sweden became independent of the Union of Kalmar, which had formerly united Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. It was a genuine new start for Sweden, and it was the occasion of their electing Gustav Vasa as their king and adopting their own flag.
The second reason for choosing 6 June is that, in 1809, Sweden adopted a new constitution on that date.
The tradition of celebrating 6 June as Flag Day began in the 1890s, when Artur Hazelius held such celebrations at his Stockholm-based open-air museum named “Skansen.” In 1916, the tradition gained yet more steam when it was honoured at the Stockholm Olympics.
In 1983, the name was changed to “National Day” by the Swedish parliament, and in 2004, it was finally voted an official public holiday.
The main celebration of National Day is still at Skansen. The king and queen arrive for the ceremonial raising of the Swedish flag, a yellow cross against a blue field, to the top of the flag pole. Kids dress up in traditional clothing then bring the king and queen bouquets of beautiful, Swedish flowers.