On June 6th 1523, Gustav Vasa was elected king at the Riksdag in Strängnäs, ending the Kalmar union, beginning a new era in Sweden’s history, and giving the Scandinavian country a National Day. Apart from that date, Sweden’s history isn’t marked by a calendar filled with “independence”, “freedom”, “liberation” or “revolution” days, therefore it conception of National Day is a slight different from what most countries understand.
A 2008 poll showed that most Swedes did not have an “independence feeling” on this recently official date, and it is perfectly understandable. France has its Bastille Day, celebrating the ending of absolute monarchism, USA have 4th of July, their independence from tyranny and the institution of democracy, even Norway has 17th of May, the signing of the Constitution that proclaimed independence from, well… Sweden.
In Latin America for example, almost every country with the exception of Brazil, endured a bloody, lengthy independence war, and even after becoming independent, many of them endured regional or civil wars. That of course gives everyone in those countries the “independence feeling”, that and the fact that many of the people who died in those wars are now National Heroes, saucing up the National Epic of great deeds and turmoils.
But I like Sweden’s National Day for a larger reason than history and heroes, it is a celebration of the country, its people and land, its poetry, its paintings and architecture, its Ingmar Bergman and its snowy Lappland, it is a reminder that midsommar is almost there and a celebration of life. I like Sweden’s National Day for it does not celebrate the past, the blood, the beheaded or the war, it is a celebration of the present and furthermore the future, a good day and a great chance to remember of course that Sweden has bypassed many conflicts thanks to being on the sideline, thanks to being neutral.
I congratulate all Swedes everywhere and anywhere, for having such a beautiful country, amazing people, enviable lifestyle and the persistent feeling that things should better everywhere else. For that gratulationen på nationaldagen! Or however you say it!