Holidays in Sweden

From Academic Kids

All official holidays in Sweden are established by acts of Parliament. The official holidays can be divided into Christian and Non-Christian holidays. The main Christian holidays are Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Ascension day, Pentecost and All Saints. The non-Christian holidays are New Year's, May Day or Valborg and Midsummer.

In addition to this all Sundays are official holidays but they not as important as the main holidays. The names of the Sundays follow the liturgical calendar and they should be categorized as Christian holidays. When the standard working week in Sweden was reduced to 40 hours by an act of Parliament it also meant that all Saturdays became a sort of de facto public holidays, though not official ones. Easter Sunday and Pentecost are Sundays that form part of a main holiday and they are preceded by a kind of special Saturdays.

Uniquely celebrated in Sweden is the holiday of Saint Lucia. She is the only saint to be celebrated in Lutheran Sweden and parts of Norway and Finland where historically Swedish influence has been prominent. Though it is not an official holiday it is probably the second most notable holiday in the country, after Christmas. The celebration always takes place on December 13 and retains many pre-Christian traditions, as do many holidays in Sweden.


In Swedish tradition many holidays have their main celebrations not on the Day but on the Eve of the holiday, meaning one day earlier. This is especially significant on Christmas Eve and Midsummer Eve, but also on New Year's Eve however in this case not really unique. Christmas Eve, Midsummer Eve and New Year's Eve might very well be the single most important holidays during the entire year for Swedes. Surprisingly they are not official holidays, they are however de facto full holidays. They hold this de facto status partly due to legislation but also due to the fact that most employment contracts provides for these days as full holidays. A number of the less important main holidays are also preceded by de facto half days, meaning that they only are half working days or school days. These are Epiphany Eve, Maundy Thursday, Walpurgis Eve, the day before Ascension Day and the day before All Saints.

The Swedish calendar also provides for special flag days. Flag days are in some cases official holidays or the birthdays and namedays for the Royal family and informal holidays like Gustav Adolph Day or the Nobel Day. A day's status as a flag day has no formal link with an eventual status as an official or as a de facto holiday.

Sweden has an official National Day, June 6. This day did not use to be neither an official nor a de facto holiday, but after a decision in parliament it now replaces Whit Monday as official holiday starting in 2005. Some minor observances are also denoted in the Swedish calendar, though they have not been judged worthy of either holiday or flag day status.

Several observances at once

There are instances where official holidays, de facto half days, official flagdays and other observances clash and several celebrations may run concurrently. One such case is the April 30 which is immediately followed by May 1. April 30 is a de facto half day because it is the Walpurgis Eve and the main day for celebrations to the arrival of the spring season. The Following day is actually Walpurgis Day; however, in the calendar it is primarily denoted as May Day, or Labor Day. Meaning that depending on your sympathies you may either celebrate it as May Day or as Walpurgis Day. In addition to this April 30 is also the kings birthday and official flag day. Also May 1 is an official flag day by virtue of May Day or Walpurgis day. If either day would fall on a Sunday that day would also in that respect an official holiday and be a Christian holiday, as one of the Sundays following Easter.

Official holidays and de facto holidays or half days
DateEnglish NameLocal NameRemarks
January 1New Year's DayNyårsdagen 
January 5Epiphany EveTrettondagsaftonNon official - however a de facto half day
January 6EpiphanyTrettondagen 
Moveable ThursdayMaundy ThursdaySkärtorsdagNon official - however a de facto half day
Moveable FridayGood FridayLångfredagThe Friday before Easter Sunday
Moveable SundayEaster SundayPåskdagen 
Moveable MondayEaster MondayAnnandag påskThe day after Easter Sunday
April 30Walpurgis NightValborgsmässoaftonNon official - however a de facto half day
May 1May DayFörsta majAlso Walpurgis Day
Moveable WednesdayDay before AscensionDag före Kristi himmelsfärdNon official - however a de facto half day
Moveable ThursdayAscension DayKristi himmelsfärdsdag40 days after Easter
Moveable SundayPentecostPingstdagen50 days after Easter
June 6National DayNationaldagenReplaced Whit Monday as official holiday
Friday falling 19-25 JuneMidsummer EveMidsommaraftonNon official - however a de facto full holiday
Saturday falling 20-26 JuneMidsummer DayMidsommardagen 
Friday in Oct/NovAll Saints EveDag före AllhelgonaNon official - however a de facto half day
First Saturday of NovemberAll Saints DayAlla helgons dagMoved from November 1 - Allhelgonadagen
December 24Christmas EveJulaftonNon official - however a de facto full holiday
December 25 Christmas DayJuldagen 
December 26Boxing DayAnnandag jul 
December 31New Year's EveNyårsaftonNon official - however a de facto full holiday

See also: National Day of Sweden, Flag days in Sweden, Namesdays in Swedensv:helgdag


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