Svenska flaggans dag – the Swedish flag’s day (national day)

Posted on 30. May, 2013 by in Culture, History

In one sense we should be grateful it rained on the 5th of June 1893, since that was one of the reasons the 6th of June became the Swedish national day. Arthur Hazelius – one of Sweden’s most successful advertisers was hosting a big spring party in his newly built museum at Skansen on the 5th of June. He had built the museum two years earlier but was still in debt and was hoping a big crowd would solve his financial problems. To his disappointment it rained and the crowds stayed at home. So he decided to extend his party to the 6th of June, a historically very important date for Sweden. Gustav Vasa had been chosen as king on this very day in 1523, as well as the appointment of system of government in 1809.

Hazelius could now turn the party into a way of celebrating Sweden and it’s history, his idea was a success and spread all over the country. During the First World War, 1916, the celebrations were moved to Stockholm’s stadium where the army marched in parades and free flags were handed out to the public. In 1963 the celebrations were moved back to Skansen as well as the army having been removed from the event. But the 6th of June didn’t officially become Sweden’s national day until 1983.

Around about the period when Halezius took initiative flags weren’t widely used. Like in most other nations flags were only used out at sea. It wasn’t until 1873 that the Swedish flag was raised at the royal palace for the first time, and not without a lot of criticism. There were a lot of people who didn’t think the flag should be used for any other purpose than out at sea. But once the royal family had done it others followed.  Flagpoles were put up all over the country, in schools, vicarages and railway stations, one of the main reasons being that free flags were handed out for quite some time. That is why Sweden has almost the most flagpoles per capita.

But the national day isn’t at all a big event compared to Norways Syttende Maj (national day) or even any of our other neighboring countries. This is most likely because Sweden has never been occupied, the Swedish people have never longed for independence.

So on the 6th of June, next Thursday, think of how a rainy day gave Sweden their national holiday.

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