Hip hip Hurray for Sweden! Today is Swedish Flag Day (or the Day of the Swedish Banner more correctly translated), the 6th of June. It’s not the first time I celebrate it abroad but it is the first time I blog about it.
As the (presumable) history teacher I am to be I want to give you all some background information about it. The tradition of celebrating this date began in the 1910s at the Stockholm Olympic Stadium, in honour of the election of King Gustav Vasa in 1523, as this was considered the foundation of modern Sweden. This event does signify the end of the Danish-ruled Kalmar Union, so in a sense it is a marking of a true Swedish home rule (although we never lost our own independence), though the event occurred so long ago that it does not have as strong of a presence in the social consciousness as does, for example, Norway’s Syttende Mai.
But the date also signifies the Coup d’Etat that took place on March 13, 1809, when seven of the conspirators broke into the royal apartments in the palace, seized the king Gustav IV Adolf, and imprisoned him and his family in Gripsholm castle. Gustav IV Adolf’s reign was ill-fated and was to end abruptly. In 1805, he joined the Third Coalition against Napoleon. His campaign went poorly and the French occupied Swedish Pomerania. When his ally, Russia, made peace and concluded an alliance with France at Tilsit in 1807, Sweden was left as Great Britain’s only European ally, besides Portugal. In the winter of 1808, Russia invaded Swedish Finland and Finland was therefore forever cut from our country. The constitution (a new one) was reveiled on the 6th of June and among other things the Coup d’Etat led to that the absolutism that had led to a lot of problematic wars for Sweden and its inhabitants ceized to be and therefore saved us from future wars. To celebrate this date is to celebrate the Coup d’Etat that led to this new liberal constitution.
And now I would like to give a new literal translation of our National hymn; (“Thou ancient, Thou free”), which lyrics were written by Richard Dybeck in 1844 to a traditional melody from Västmanland (the county were I was born!!!). It should be noted that the true title of the song is Sång till Norden (“Song to the North”). The opening words Du gamla, Du fria as the title is rather the de facto title. We should therefore take this as a sign that we need to be proud of the Nordic region as A WHOLE, not only Sweden.
And here comes the National anthem. I am a Nationalist. I am a Swede. Without prefixes, explanations and “but”. Here it goes;
You ancient, you free, you mountainous North
You quiet, you joyful beauty!
I greet You, most beautiful land upon earth,
Your sun, Your sky, Your meadows green.:/
You throne upon memories of great days of yore,
When honored Your name flew over the world,
I know that You are and will be as you were,
/: Yes, I want to live I want to die in the North
I forever will serve my beloved country,
your faith until death will I swear,
Your right will I protect with mind and with hand,
your banner, great the feats it carries.:/
With God shall I struggle (fight), for home and for hearth,
for Sweden, the dear motherland.
I trade You not, for anything in the world
No, I want to live I want to die in the North.:/