Holidays and Festivals in Sweden

Sweden is a country that vibrantly celebrates its traditions, holidays, and festivals throughout the year. These celebrations are deeply rooted in the country's culture and history, offering a glimpse into the Swedish way of life. From welcoming the New Year to marking the arrival of spring, summer, and winter, each festival and holiday carries its unique significance and set of traditions. Discover the key holidays and festivals of Sweden, delving into their roots, traditions, and significance within Swedish culture.

New Year's Day

New Year's Day in Sweden is a time of celebration and reflection. Swedes welcome the New Year with fireworks, festive gatherings, and the singing of the traditional song 'Auld Lang Syne'. It's a public holiday, allowing people to relax and spend time with family and friends after the New Year's Eve festivities. Many also take this opportunity to make resolutions for the year ahead, hoping to bring about positive changes in their lives.

Epiphany

Epiphany, known as 'Trettondedag Jul' in Sweden, is celebrated on January 6th. This holiday marks the end of the Christmas season and is traditionally associated with the Three Wise Men's visit to baby Jesus. In Sweden, Epiphany is often celebrated with special church services and sometimes with star-singing processions, where children dress up and go from house to house, singing carols and collecting money for charity.

Good Friday

Good Friday, or 'Långfredagen', is a solemn holiday in Sweden, commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It is a day of reflection and quietness, with many attending church services. Although Sweden is a secular country, Good Friday remains a public holiday, and many take advantage of the long weekend to spend time with family or enjoy the outdoors as spring begins to make its presence felt.

Easter Sunday and Easter Monday

Easter is a significant celebration in Sweden, marked by a mix of Christian traditions and springtime festivities. Easter Sunday ('Påskdagen') and Easter Monday ('Annandag Påsk') are both public holidays. Swedes celebrate with special meals, including eggs, herring, and lamb. Children often participate in Easter egg hunts and dress up as 'Easter witches', visiting neighbors to exchange paintings and drawings for sweets.

Labour Day

Labour Day on May 1st is both a celebration of spring and an important day for political demonstrations and speeches in Sweden. Historically linked to the labor movement, many Swedes attend marches and rallies advocating for workers' rights. It's also a day when people enjoy the warming weather, and many cultural events and activities are organized across the country. This day serves as a reminder of the ongoing efforts to ensure fair labor practices and equality, reflecting Sweden's commitment to social justice and workers' welfare.

Ascension Day

Ascension Day, known as 'Kristi Himmelsfärds Dag', is celebrated 40 days after Easter Sunday. It commemorates Jesus Christ's ascension into heaven. In Sweden, this day is often enjoyed outdoors, with many taking advantage of the long weekend to go hiking or spend time in nature. It is also a popular day for confirmation ceremonies in the Swedish Church. This blend of religious observance and appreciation for the outdoors exemplifies the Swedish lifestyle, integrating spiritual reflection with a profound connection to nature.

National Day

Sweden's National Day on June 6th commemorates the election of King Gustav Vasa in 1523, which is considered the foundation of modern Sweden. This day was declared a public holiday in 2005, and Swedes celebrate their national identity and heritage with flag-raising ceremonies, local festivals, and open houses at many public buildings, including the Royal Palace. National Day is a reflection of Swedish pride and unity, offering a moment for Swedes to reflect on their history and the values that shape their society today.

Midsummer's Day

Midsummer's Day is one of the most beloved Swedish holidays, celebrated on the Friday closest to the summer solstice, usually between June 19th and 25th. The holiday is marked by traditional festivities such as maypole dancing, singing, and wearing wreaths of flowers. Swedes gather with family and friends to enjoy a feast that includes herring, new potatoes, and strawberries. It's a day full of joy, celebrating the peak of summer and the beauty of nature.

All Saints' Day

All Saints' Day, or 'Alla Helgons Dag', is a solemn day of remembrance in Sweden, falling on the first Saturday in November. Swedes visit cemeteries to light candles and pay their respects to the deceased. It's a time of quiet reflection, with the candlelit graves creating a serene and beautiful atmosphere in cemeteries across the country. This tradition underscores the Swedish values of family and community, as people come together to remember and honor their loved ones, bridging the past and present through collective memory and respect.

Christmas

Christmas is a cornerstone of Swedish festivities, with Christmas Day ('Juldagen') and the Second Day of Christmas ('Annandag Jul') being public holidays. The celebrations are deeply rooted in family traditions, including the Christmas Eve feast, attending midnight mass, and the exchange of gifts. The Second Day of Christmas offers a more relaxed day for visiting relatives and enjoying the holiday spirit.

Walpurgis Night

Walpurgis Night, celebrated on April 30th, welcomes the arrival of spring. Swedes gather around bonfires to sing traditional spring songs and celebrate the end of winter. It's a festive night that brings communities together, often accompanied by speeches and performances. The celebration is named after Saint Walpurga and has become a cherished tradition in Sweden. This evening also serves as a communal assertion of warmth and light against the dark, cold winter months.

Gothenburg Film Festival

The Gothenburg Film Festival, held annually in Gothenburg, is Scandinavia's largest film festival. It takes place at the end of January and showcases a vast selection of international and Swedish films. The festival offers a platform for filmmakers to present their work and for audiences to explore new and diverse cinematic perspectives. Additionally, it fosters discussions, workshops, and panels that delve into various aspects of filmmaking and storytelling, enriching the cultural landscape of Sweden.

Sami National Day

Sami National Day is celebrated on February 6th and marks a significant occasion for the Sami people, the indigenous inhabitants of the Arctic area encompassing parts of northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. This day commemorates the first Sami congress held in 1917 in Trondheim, Norway, which was a pivotal moment in Sami history, as it was the first time that Norwegian and Swedish Sami came together across borders to discuss common issues. Sami National Day is celebrated with various cultural events, including traditional Sami music, joik performances, wearing of the colorful Sami national dress, and raising the Sami flag. It's a day of pride, cultural affirmation, and recognition of the Sami people's rights, history, and contributions to the cultural landscape of the Nordic countries.

Stockholm Pride

Stockholm Pride is the largest Pride festival in Scandinavia, celebrating the LGBTQ+ community. Held in late July or early August, it features a parade, concerts, and various events promoting equality, diversity, and the rights of LGBTQ+ people. It's a vibrant and colorful celebration of love and acceptance. The festival not only serves as a platform for advocacy and visibility but also as a testament to Sweden's progressive values and commitment to human rights.

Swedish Food Festival

Sweden hosts various food festivals throughout the year, celebrating its culinary traditions and local produce. From the Surströmming premiere, where Swedes enjoy fermented herring, to crayfish parties in late summer, these festivals offer a taste of Sweden's diverse and delicious cuisine. These gatherings are not just about food; they are a celebration of Swedish culture, heritage, and the joy of communal dining, reinforcing the social fabric of the community.

Uppsala Reggae Festival

The Uppsala Reggae Festival is one of Northern Europe's largest reggae festivals, held in Uppsala. It attracts fans and artists from around the world, celebrating reggae music and culture. The festival is known for its inclusive and positive atmosphere, showcasing a variety of reggae styles and related genres. Beyond music, the festival embodies a spirit of unity and peace, resonating with the values of tolerance and mutual respect that are central to Swedish society.

The Nobel Prize Ceremonies

The Nobel Prize Ceremonies on December 10th are among the most prestigious events in Sweden. Nobel laureates receive their awards in a formal ceremony in Stockholm, followed by a gala banquet. It's a celebration of achievements in science, literature, and peace, reflecting Sweden's commitment to intellectual and cultural excellence. This event not only honors outstanding global contributions but also highlights Sweden's role in fostering innovation, creativity, and a better world through knowledge and discovery.

Swedish Lucia

Lucia Day on December 13th is one of the most picturesque Swedish traditions, celebrating Saint Lucia, a symbol of light and hope. Young girls and boys participate in Lucia processions, dressed in white gowns and singing traditional songs. The girl chosen to represent Lucia wears a crown of candles on her head, leading the procession. It's a celebration that brings warmth and light during the darkest time of the year. This tradition not only brightens the Swedish winter but also strengthens the bond within communities as they gather to witness the Lucia processions.

In essence, Sweden's holidays and festivals are a reflection of its rich cultural tapestry, celebrating everything from historical events to the natural cycles of the seasons. These celebrations are not just about preserving traditions but also about fostering community, family bonds, and national pride. Whether it's the warmth of Midsummer's Eve, the reflective quiet of All Saints' Day, or the vibrant colors of Stockholm Pride, each festival and holiday holds a special place in the hearts of Swedes, contributing to the country's unique cultural identity.

Upcoming Holidays (next six months)

HolidayDateDayType
All Saints' Day November 02 Saturday Public Holiday
Christmas Day December 25 Wednesday Public Holiday
Second Day of Christmas December 26 Thursday Public Holiday
New Year's Day January 01 Wednesday Public Holiday
Epiphany January 06 Monday Public Holiday

Holidays by Year

Previous Year: 2023
This page was last edited on 23 February 2024 at 09:36 AM (EST).