Sweden’s National Day today – but it’s a pale shadow of Midsommar

It’s the 6th of June and its Sweden’s National Day but it is raining this morning. At least the rain is reasonably warm and we should get up to about 22ºC today. It is an artificial National Day and has very little significance in its origin or in practice. It generates little emotion and has no real tradition to speak of. Its importance is a pale shadow to that of Midsommar. If one takes 1893 as the origin of the day then it was entirely a marketing ploy by Artur Hazelius.

The real origin of the choice of 6th June was bad weather and the ensuring of revenues from an organised festival! In 1893, a Spring Festival had to be reorganised hastily by Artur Hazelius for the 6th of June because it rained heavily on the day he had planned. The “Festival” was planned to draw in money from the public of course!

In more recent times, the loony right (fascists, neo-nazis and other xenophobes), including the Sweden Democrats, have tried to use the National day to express their xenophobia. But with almost 20% of the current citizenry having been born outside of Sweden, even the Sweden Democrats have realised the futility (and political stupidity) of their xenophobia and are trying to clean up their act. (This strategy is working and they have never had a higher level of support – about 14% – than now. So far they only have a few token immigrants among their supporters).

But this year the Google Doodle for the day is by Stina Wirsén and is intended to be an image celebrating “inclusion”.

Sweden National Day Google Doodle by Stina Wirsén

Sweden National Day Google Doodle by Stina Wirsén

I wrote last year:

Perhaps the best thing about Sweden’s national day today is that there is not very much jingoism and nationalism and patriotic fervour in evidence. If anything it is more a celebration of the values of human freedoms rather than any particular celebration of the nation state within its geographical boundaries. Even the national (but unofficial) anthem is more a paean to the North – Scandinavia (“Oh! I wish to live, I wish to die in Norden”) rather than specifically to Sweden.

The 6th of June has been a national holiday only since 2005, has been officially the National Day only since 1983 and before that was the Swedish Flag day but only since 1916. It was chosen ostensibly because the 6th of June was the day on which Gustav Vasa was crowned in 1523. But the real reason of course is that because there is a very good chance that the 6th of June will be a nice warm summer day! …… 

I don’t mind too much if it rains a bit today – as long as it does not for Midsommar.

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