Holidays and traditions
Public Holidays 2013
- January 1 – New Year’s Day (Nyårsdagen)
- January 6 – Epiphany (Trettondag jul)
- March 29 – Easter Good Friday (Långfredagen)
- March 31 - Easter Sunday (Påskdagen)
- April 1 - Easter Monday (Annandag påsk)
- May 1 – May Day (Första maj)
- May 9 – Ascension Day (Kristi himmelsfärds dag)
- May 19 – Whitsunday (Pingstdagen)
- June 6 – National Day (Sveriges nationaldag)
- June 22 – Midsummer Day (Midsommardagen)
- November 2 – All Saints Day (Alla helgons dag)
- December 25 – Christmas Day (Juldagen)
- December 26 – Boxing Day (Annandag jul)
Other occasions for celebration/feasts
Fettisdagen, February 12
Shrove Tuesday is the official day for eating semlor, which are buns filled with cream and marzipan, topped with icing sugar. Semlor can be bought in grocery stores and cafés and are usually served with a cup of coffee, although they can also be enjoyed dunked in bowl of hot milk. Traditionally semlor were eaten in large quantities in preparation for the Christian fast. The day after Fettisdagen, Ash Wednesday (Askonsdagen), marks the beginning of the Christian fast that ends on the first day of Easter. Semlor are generally available from January to April.
Påsk, March 28 - April 1
Easter, along with Christmas, is one of the biggest holidays in Sweden, and is usually celebrated with family and friends. Schools close for a ten-day holiday. Lamb is a popular Easter dish, but most people eat eggs in one form or another. The perfect gift this time of year is a cardboard Easter egg filled with sweets and chocolate. Children usually paint and decorate eggs and make models of cockerels, hens and chicks out of marzipan.
Valborgsmässoafton, April 30
Walpurgis Night marks the beginning of spring in Sweden and is celebrated around huge bonfires as people gather to sing farewell to winter and to welcome the spring. Students traditionally celebrate Walpurgis with drinks and songs, the students of Uppsala being particularly famous for their rowdy Walpurgis Night celebrations.
Midsommarafton, June 21
Midsummer is celebrated on the eve of Midsummer Day, with dancing and singing around a maypole decorated with seasonal flowers. Many people wear provincial dresses for the occasions and traditional crowns woven of seven types of flower. Although this holiday may have Christian origins it is not associated with any religious practice in Sweden. A Midsummer menu includes herring, fresh potatoes, beer and schnapps, followed by strawberries for dessert.
Crayfish Season - the early August marks the beginning of the crayfish season, when people gather to eat crayfish and drink beer and schnapps. Singing is, of course, mandatory on these occasions, as is the custom of wearing small colourful party hats. Rooms are decorated with brightly-coloured paper lanterns and (of course) red crayfish.
Luciadagen, December 13
The festival of St. Lucia is a celebration of light that dates back to the middle ages. It is celebrated in commemoration of Saint Lucia of Syracuse, who is portrayed by a young girl dressed in white with candles arranged in a crown on her head. Behind her walks a female choir singing traditional Lucia songs. The modern celebration was introduced at the beginning of the 20th century and is today a popular tradition that can be seen in many churches, schools, workplaces and shopping centres. Around Lucia and Christmas, people enjoy specially baked lussebullar, a kind of saffron and raisin buns.
Jul, December 24 - 26
Christmas is celebrated mainly on Christmas Eve (Julafton) in Sweden, but also on Christmas Day (Juldagen) and Boxing Day (Annandag jul). Schools close for three weeks but most shops are open throughout the holiday period. Traditional celebrations include dancing around the Christmas tree, giving presents and enjoying a sumptuous family dinner. Many families prepare the Christmas buffet (julbord) beforehand by baking gingerbread biscuits (pepparkakor) and special Christmas sweets, (julgodis). Ham, sausages, meatballs and other traditional delicacies can be enjoyed at many restaurants in December.