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Public Holidays in Sweden Posted by on Apr 12, 2010 in Culture

Public holidays in Sweden are referred to as röda dagar.  Red days.  In the past Christian holidays were marked in red on the calendar. Today, your average Swedish calendar will have quite a few red days.  All of the public holidays, as well as every Sunday.

If you see a red day on the calendar, there is a good chance most of the country will have a day off from work.  Of course, it is important to note that the days off don’t stop with red days.  Often times, business, schools, and other organizations will recognize the afton and the klämdag.  Afton being the eve of the holiday.  Many businesses will close their office around lunch time the day before a public holiday.

A klämdag is similar. Literally translated it is a squeeze day.  Klämdagar are the days that bridge red days.  For example, if May Day were to fall on a Tuesday (it doesn’t this year) the Monday would be referred to as a klämdag because it bridges the Sunday (a red day) and May Day (another red day).  Many businesses will either grant their employees the entire day off or close at lunch time.

If you find yourself working in Sweden, it is helpful to learn this system.  If only to avoid unnecessary embarrassment when requesting a day off from work that turns out to already be a public holiday. Something I managed to do early on in my move to Sweden.

Below is a list of public holidays.  If you’re working in Sweden, chances are you’ll have these days off:

January – Nyårsdagen (New Year’s Day), Trettondedag Jul (The Epiphany).
February – No public holidays.
March – No public holidays.
April –Långfredagen (Good Friday), Påskdagen (Easter Sunday), Annandag Påsk (Easter Monday).
May –Första Maj (May Day), Kristi Himmelsfärdsdag (The Day of the Ascension).
June – Sveriges Nationaldag (National Day of Sweden), Midsommardagen (Midsummer).
July – No public holidays.
August – No public holidays.
September – No public holidays.
October – Alla Helgons dag (All Saints’ Day).
November – No public holidays.
December – Juldagen (Christmas Day), Annandag Jul (Boxing Day).

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About the Author:Marcus Cederström

Marcus Cederström has been writing for the Transparent Swedish Blog since 2009. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Oregon, a Master's Degree in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and is currently a PhD candidate in Scandinavian Studies and Folklore at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He has taught Swedish for several years and still spells things wrong. So, if you see something, say something.


Comments:

  1. Steve:

    You should probably also point out that, although not officially red days (röda dagar), almost no one works on Midsommarafton (Midsummer Eve) or Nyårsafton (New Years Eve). It may also be useful to mention that Alla Helgons Dag (All Saints Day) is always on a Saturday so, to my mind anyway, doesn’t really count. Although, some people take Alla Helgons Afton (All Saints Day Eve) as a half day or as a holiday. At my company we get Alla Helgons Afton as a holiday when Sveriges Nationaldag falls on a weekend.

  2. Steve:

    Come think of it, Julafton (Christmas Eve) is not an official red day, but nobody works on that day either. In fact Julafton (Christmas Eve) is the day that is celebrated more in Sweden than Juldagen (Christmas Day) itself, and is the day that children (young and old) receive gifts.

  3. Marcus Cederström:

    It’s true, although this list above is just the official public holidays (which is why Easter is listed even though it is a Sunday and very few businesses are open on a Sunday). As I mentioned though, the aftons definitely come into play.

    In terms of the Swedish Christmas, we did a bit of a series here during December that was quite a bit of fun: http://blogs.transparent.com/swedish/2009/12/page/2/

  4. public works energy:

    I see the public holidays list, public works are also closed on these holidays.


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