Friday, 10 June 2011

Friday My Town: Flag Day


For once I’m lucky and the theme of an American celebration actually coincides (more or less) with the Swedish equivalent.

In Sweden we celebrate Flag Day on 6th June. In 1983 the day was promoted to National Day, but no one paid much attention to that until 2005 when it was also made a proper holiday.

I think most of us still hardly know exactly what it is we’re supposed to be celebrating. But hey, give us a day off and add a bit of sunshine and we don’t mind waving a few flags and listening to music and a speech in the town park.

It’s not that we’re not proud of our nation; it’s more a question of not having a specific date for its beginning.

6th June is the day when king Gustav Vasa or Gustav I of Sweden was crowned back in 1523. But the list of kings who ruled both Svealand/ ‘Sweden’ and Götaland/ ‘Gothia’ goes back to around 970. And before that, those two as separate nations go back even further.

Blue and yellow have been used as the colours of _Sweden at least since 1275.

According to legend, a 12th century Swedish king Eric the Holy saw a golden cross in the sky as he landed in Finland during the First Swedish Crusade in 1157. Seeing this as a sign from God he adopted the golden cross against a blue background as his banner. There are however no contemporary sources about the crusade, and no pictures or descriptions of the flag until the mid 16th century (i.e. the reign of king Gustav I mentioned above).

Anyway – the flag as well as the nation is quite old!



Some standard bearers have a dress code, others apparently do not.





Swedish national costume. This is a sort of “compromise” costume developed from a wide variety of traditional folk costumes.

Not a lot of people were wearing folk costumes on this day. Even the few who might have one in their wardrobe may have hesitated to put it on, since it was an unusually hot day (30°C/86°F in the shadow and foreboding thunder).



That was Monday. Since then there has been thunder and rain, and now we’re back to 13°C/55°F (and rain). That’s Swedish summer in a nutshell – you never know! Since today is graduation day for a lot of students, I feel a bit sorry for them. 


  1. A great post for flags, Dawn Trader. I always enjoy hearing about different cultures and holidays other than my own. I always think of Sweden as so romantic. Loved it.

  2. I love hearing of the history of your country and your Flag is very nice. looks like a great celebration. your weather is similar to here in Michigan. never know what is coming next!

  3. I enjoyed reading this history, I love the grouping of flags together too. It makes such a colorful photo.

  4. the flag is beautiful all by itself, but with so many of them it is spectacular. i like the costumes but they do look warm and i am thinking maybe that is why some of them are not in uniform but shorts. doesn't matter what they have on, it is beautiful

  5. A very interesting post. Our weather has been crazy this week also. A humidex reading of 40C on Tuesday and today we're at 17C.

  6. I have always just loved your flag, the cross and the beautiful colors! I had known about the golden cross in the sky, but forgot, so I m glad you reminded me, I love the story. the first picture is my favorite, so pretty! We are having graduation here, too!

  7. I agree with Ginny - your flag is one of my favorites! The colors are wonderful! Thank you for posting the history along with your pictures. I enjoyed reading it!

  8. Such rich history around the story of your flag. I don't think there will be a National Flag Day in NZ any time soon, the flag is at the centre of so much controversy, one of the main reasons being it is so much like Australia's (as you commented). Love your photos. Lovely day for a festival!


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