National Day ‘important’ for new Swedish citizens

National Day 'important' for new Swedish citizens
Swedish National Day celebrations play an increasingly important role for integrating immigrants, experts have claimed, with many freshly minted Swedish citizens attending locally organized citizenship ceremonies on June 6th.

“It’s a very well-thought out feature that many immigrants appreciate,” Lund University ethnology professor Jonas Frykman told the TT news agency.

Frykman believes that Swedish National Day festivities have become more organized since the day became an official public holiday in 2005.

However, Swedes are still finding their way when it comes to celebrating National Day, which still lacks the festive, almost carnival-like atmosphere that characterizes how Norwegians, for example, mark their May 17th National Day.

Part of the reason Sweden’s June 6th National Day has been slow to become a widely celebrated jubilee according to Frykman, is due to the day’s continued political associations, with Swedish nationalists on the one side, and anti-fascists on the other.

In addition, besides with sporting events, Swedes rarely wrap themselves in blue and yellow attire or sing the country’s national anthem, ethnologist Jonas Engman at the Nordic Museum in Stockholm added.

“We are very ambivalent when it comes to National Day. When we watch ice hockey we can be very patriotic, but we get a bit uncomfortable with national holidays that clearly highlight Swedishness,” he told TT.

Both ethnologists also point to the Swedish Midsummer holiday as a competitor to National Day.

“Based on Swedes’ engagement, Midsummer is clearly our national day. National Day doesn’t end up being much of a festival as a result,” said Frykman, adding that Swedes would rather spend time out in the countryside on a public holiday than gather with others and pay homage to Sweden.

TT/The Local/dl

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