Swedish Anthem

The Swedish constitution does not mention a particular national anthem. What is custom to use in ceremonial situations since the end of the 1930s is the song "Du gamla, du fria" ("Thou ancient, Thou free"). When it comes to lyrics, the song does in fact not mention Sweden. It talks about live and die in the North, refering to the Scandinavian countries which could be considered as a longing for past times (when Norway was a part of Denmark and Finland was a part of Sweden and we all shared the same union), or as a wish for the future (we often talk about attacking Norway and surrender really quickly to get the benefits of their oil reserves) or simply because it sounded grand at the time it was written.

The first verse focuses on the characteristics of the nature of Sweden and perhaps Swedes. Maybe Tim Rice picked up on this when working together with former ABBA members Björn and Benny while making the song "Anthem" for the musical Chess. This is a kind of pedagogical song, trying to describe the differences between the concepts "land", "country" and "nation", although it seems to get it a bit wrong. However, sorting them out is by no means an easy task, nor is defining how many countries exist since it depends on which country is doing the counting. Let's say it's around 195. I've been to more than 50 of them, although not all of them were countries when I visited them.

"Du gamla, du fria" is based on an old folk-ballad from the north part of Sweden called "Kärestans död" (The Death of the Sweetheart"). When the racist Swedish party "Sverigedemokraterna" tried to claim that Swedish folk music was an example of "pure" Swedish culture, the folk music community sent a very clear message that they by no means would like to be associated with that kind of thinking. The folk music festivals at Bingsjö, Boda and Delsbo in the county Dalarna made an appeal and publicly announced that folk music by tradition is inclusive and continues to mix influences from many countries and cultures. For example, a very famous folk musician, Calle Jularbo, made the accordion popular in Sweden but few people knew he was a Romani. My guess is that not that many Swedes know that Romani is an official (minority) Swedish language together with Finnish, Meänkieli, Sami, and Yiddish.
From Tjolöholm 2014

In comparison to the festivities in Norway on May 17, the celebration of the National Day of Sweden June 6 is rather modest. That could, of course, be related to the fact that Sweden has not been to war for more than 200 years and that the date refers to the time when we dissolved our union with Denmark in 1523, something we don't talk about that often. However, since it became a holiday in 2005, the festivities have increased. Now many municipalities organise that which include welcoming new Swedes. Today, around 20% of the population in Sweden were born in another country or are the children of international migrants. The Swedish Royal Family is a good example, since both the king's mother and wife was/is from Germany and one of the princesses married an American/Austrian born in the UK.

More people than I are using the Swedish Royal Family for pedagogical purposes. For example, in his blog "Rymdslottet" (The Space Castle) journalist Andrev Walden illustrates space-related facts with photographs of them talking to each other. The latest series depict Prince Carl Philip and his bride-to-be Sofia where she (having a background as a nude model/reality-show actress)  explains the role of imperfection for the existence of life on earth to him. More than 85% of the Swedish population can speak English. I really wish everybody could read Swedish, because the dialogues in "Rymdslottet" are so funny!

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