Swedish word of the day: klämdag

Did you have the Friday following Ascension Day off? Congratulations, you perhaps work for a company that honours the old Swedish tradition of "klämdagar". Or you took it off your own annual holiday allowance – either way, we hope you enjoyed your day off.

Swedish word of the day: klämdag
Here's a nifty little feature of Swedish public holidays. Photo: Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Klämdag literally means “squeeze day” (klämma – to squeeze, and dag – day) and refers to the day that falls, or is squeezed, between a public holiday and a weekend.

In neighbouring Norway it’s also referred to as a squeeze day (inneklemt dag) while it’s a “bridge day” in Italy and Germany among others (ponte and Brückentag, respectively).

Sweden has several public holidays, often called “red days” or röda dagar. If these fall on a weekend, you don’t automatically get a corresponding weekday off, as is the case in the UK for example, so the exact number of days off changes each year.

This is why you will often hear Swedes talk about particular years being “a good year” for holidays, when the maximum number of holidays fall on a weekday and even better, fall on a Tuesday or a Thursday – thus allowing you to take a klämdag and give yourself a lovely four-day long weekend while using up only one day of leave.

On top of that, many workplaces – but not all, so do please check with your boss before clocking out early – allow you to take a halfday off the day before a public holiday.

Whether your workplace lets you take a klämdag without taking it off your annual allowance or not, Swedish holiday laws are generally very generous.

Employees have the right to take at least 25 days of holiday each year. Of those, 20 days (four working weeks, apart from in a few industries where this is slightly shorter, or if your employment contract says something else) can be taken consecutively during the summer months of June, July, and August, although this isn’t necessarily a must.

And not only do you get paid your normal salary during holiday, but you also get a small bonus or semesterlön, calculated as a percentage of your salary. This is usually paid out the month after holiday is taken, meaning that if you go away in June, you’ll receive an increased salary in July.


Do you have the day between the public holiday and the weekend off?

Är du ledig på klämdagen?

Ascension Day falls on a Thursday, so the following Friday is always a “squeeze day”

Kristi himmelfärdsdag faller på en torsdag, så följande fredag är alltid en klämdag

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​​Swedish word of the day: riksdag

When you meet for a diet in the realm.

​​Swedish word of the day: riksdag

Riksdagen is the Swedish parliament, you will find its cognates in the old Danish term for their parliament, rigsdagen, although they now use the term folketing, and in German, the Reichstag

Riks– is from rike, which means ‘realm’ or in other words ‘kingdom’ as in kungarike. Svensk ordbok, the Swedish dictionary published by the Swedish Academy, tells us that rike is attested as far back as the 11th century on rune stones, that it is of Celtic origin, and that it is related to rik, the Swedish word for ‘rich’. It is believed to be of the same origin as rex in Latin, meaning king. Which should make kungarike a pleonasm, a redundancy, though hardly anyone will know that rike has this origin.

For comparison, ‘realm’ in English is from the Old French reaume, which in modern French is royaume, meaning ‘kingdom’. This is also from roy meaning ‘king’ which ultimately derives from the Latin rex, also meaning ‘king’. The kicker here is that Old Celtic languages and Latin were fairly closely related, some argue this is the reason they were easily replaced by Latin when the Roman Empire conquered the Celtic-speaking peoples. 

The -dag part of riksdag means ‘day’, but there is more to this word in this context, meaning an ‘appointed day’ or ‘gathering’. In English you can find a similar word in ’diet’. Howso, you ask? 

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Well, ‘diet’ goes back through Old French to the Latin diaeta, which could mean ‘a public assembly’, ‘a set day of trial’ or ‘a day’s journey’. That in turn derived from the Ancient Greek δῐ́αιτα meaning ‘way of living’ or ‘living space’ or ‘decision/judgement’. Which somehow was influenced by the Latin diēs, meaning ‘day’ – things get complicated at times in etymology it seems. Going to the riksdag then is going to the ‘diet of the realm’.

The word riksdag is borrowed from the German Reichstag, though the traditional Germanic term for these meetings or governing assemblies was a ting (as in the Danish folketing, mentioned above). We also touched on this in our möte word of the day article.

Sveriges riksdag, as you may well know, is the legislature and supreme decision-making body of the Kingdom of Sweden. You can visit the riksdag at Riksdagshuset on Helgeandsholmen in Stockholm, where you can watch debates or attend a guided tour. 

So, next time your friend tells you about their new diet, you can tell them all about the etymology of the name of the Swedish parliament. Have a good weekend!

Example sentences:

Vet du varför man har ordet ‘dag’ i riksdag?

Do you know why they use the word ‘dag’ in ‘riksdag’?

Vill du följa med mig till riksdagen?

Do you wanna tag along to the Swedish parliament? 

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is now available to order. Head to to read more about it. It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon US, Amazon UK, Bokus or Adlibris.