National Day of Sweden

Yesterday, the 6th of June, was the National Day of Sweden. It is celebrated in memory of when Gustav Vasa was crowned king and laid the foundation of modern Sweden in 1523 following his rebellion against Christian the Tyrant of Denmark. 

The date also coincides with the 1809 reform which put an end to royal absolutism by dividing the legislative power between the Riksdag (Parliament) and the King.

“Sweden is ours, it is the country of six and a quarter million living Swedes. But it is also the dead’s country, those who have built it up for us from the start and handed it over to us to manage and improve. The dead are countless million more than us. They have much to say to us now, and we are obliged to listen to them. We listen to them by remembering what they have accomplished and by valuing their strife. They can no longer defend their work. That is now our responsibility.

Some god-given right to a certain piece of land, a right in and of itself to possess a certain country from the beginning to the end, is of course not given to our people. That right is something which must be earned, which should be acquired by every people.

The Swedes have earned the right to their land. Sweden is ours and has been for thousands of years with the tiller and the farmers natural right, through the blood sacrificed by ancestors, through the distinctive culture, that has been created here.

What Sweden is today, dead and living Swedes have made it to, and nobody else. Sweden is today ours through Swedish strife. The living Swedes assignment is to preserve it and improve through this strife – on the foundation of freedom.

We are few people, but we have big country to live in. Look at the map of of Europe! Our country spreads far out in the continent. But we are few, we are the lonely cottages people, and even if we nowadays partially live in cities, we are at one point in time descended from the cabins of farmers, crofters and cottagers.

In the loneliness of vast desolate woods the soul of the Swedish has been shaped and moulded for thousands of years. Wrestling with the stone and stump when the field was tilled, has given us powers – spiritual and physical. And strong resistance has developed these powers. Thus the lands woods and soil have characterized us, given us, the original source of our peoples strength, the lone wood-dwellers pride and sense of freedom and the tough tillers persistence.

What truly is Swedish is the origin – our locus. It is for me the soil of childhood where I ran barefoot a dozen summers, and felt the juniper bushes fir needles under my feet. Childhoods soil, it is the brightening nights of spring with mothers flight over the cabin slopes, and cranes’ cries from the marsh. It is summers sun-drenched stream with its lukewarm water splashing around children’s legs with scabs on their knees. It is autumn red cranberries tussocks and the fallen apple in dew grass a clear morning. It is winter snowdrifts at the stoop. The icy bobsled run. There are some children in a mossy lichen cottage on the wooded hill a lonely evening at dusk. Father is at the regiment meeting, mother is day laboring up in Roten. Children sit at the cabin window and press their noses against the glass. Is there not someone down there on the road? It is poverty – but a proud poverty, helping himself to life’s adequate sustenance, to the rough, but hearty daily bread of rye on the field patch surrounding the cottage.

It is a healthy and free childhood, as the wild herb between juniper bushes in the meadow. There is peace and security in a peaceful country, where children are born free by free parents. A country where even the smallest children of farmers can try their hand at all kinds of opportunities until they are no longer able. A country where everyone is allowed to grow at their own pace. This is its own, that which shall never allow itself to be replaced by something foreign. This is the root and bloodline, my spiritual inheritance that I have to keep untouched and pass on to my own children. This is for me the Swedish, the unalienable.”

– Vilhelm Moberg, Svensk Strävan, 1941

One thought on “National Day of Sweden”

  1. Those words are beautiful. Even in english. I hope every american who has their ancestry in Europe, either whole or partly, will read these words and take them to their hearts. For us Moberg was the great author of the 20th century. A man of simple origins who really made it. He was also the one that put to words the trilogy of immigrants crossing over the Atlantic in the 19th century. About one million swedes left over the course of decades in hope to find a better life on the other side.

    Liked by 1 person

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