June 5, 2014

June 6th: Sweden's National Holiday

Sweden's National Holiday is celebrated on June 6th each year. Sadly, it is a bit of a wimpy holiday... nothing along the lines of the Fourth of July in the US, Bastille Day in France or "17e Maj" in Norway. Every year there are discussions around the proverbial water cooler and in the media on why we don't celebrate it more. I actually read an interesting article today where a prominent ethnographer explained that this is mainly due to the fact that Sweden has never been occupied, or had to fight for independence (besides the Kalmar Union in the 1400's), so there isn't any concrete reason to celebrate. It doesn't help either that Swedes have a natural aversion to sticking out in a crowd (i.e. flag waving). Landet Lagom! It is what it is... but what it is, at any rate, is a bank holiday. So banks, smaller shops and liquor stores will be closed. Larger stores, museums, most restaurants and sightseeing will be open/running as normal. It is a little special this year because it falls on a Friday which means Swedes have a long weekend and many will be heading out to their summer homes in the archipelago.
Royal Palace in Gamla Stan
It isn't as glum as I make it sound... there are of course happenings and celebrations going on which a visitor can enjoy. Top of the list is a visit to Skansen... the open air museum of Swedish culture and traditions as well as city zoo. Actually this was where the National Holiday was first celebrated in 1893 and this is where the official celebrations are held. In fact, the king and queen will be in attendance in the evening. Besides the royal visit there will be tons of activities for all ages... click here for a full calendar. The royal family will also be celebrating by having free entrance to the Royal Palace (in Gamla Stan) and its adjoining museums during the day (10am to 5pm). Another museum with free entrance on this day is the History Museum (Historiska). Finally, we have Make Music Stockholm. This is a street music festival that will be taking place all day (noon to 8pm) in the streets, parks and squares on the island of Södermalm (where the Rival Hotel is located). Should be festive! Don't forget the restaurant festival Smaka På Stockholm going on all week in Kungsträdgården. Click here for more suggestions on how to spend the day...
Drottningholm Palace
I can't talk write about the royal family and this holiday without mentioning the christening of H.R.H. Princess Leonore (the daughter of Princess Madeleine, the king's youngest child) on Sunday, June 8th at Drottningholm Palace. It will be a relatively subdued affair compared with the recent christening of Princess Estelle, the future queen of Sweden. What is important for visitors to know is that there will be closures and partial closures of the Drottningholm Palace between the 4th and 10th of June due to the christening. Click here for more detailed information.
H.R.H Princess Madeleine, Mr. Christopher O’Neill, H.R.H. Princess Leonore
Photo: royalcourt.se, Sweden

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