The Sixth of June is the National Day of Sweden, so like a good patriot of my adopted home, I hung my Swedish flag from the railing of my balcony this morning. I'm the only one in the neighborhood to have done this.
Swedes aren't terribly patriotic, and unfortunately patriotism here is sometimes associated with nationalism, racism or worse. Leave to to moderate, introspective Sweden to question the value of loving one’s own country!
I believe one should be proud of one’s land and be embrace what's good about it. No country on Earth is perfect, just as no person is perfect. We do what we can with what we're given, each to this best of his abilities.
I love my adopted home Sweden in a different way from the way I love my fatherland The United States, and part of the distinction has to do with the way I obtained citizenship in each country.
I was born in the U.S., so I didn't have to work for U.S. citizenship; it was just given to me. But I chose Sweden, and to become I Swede, I had to put in a lot of work and invest more than five years of my life. In a way, it feels like my Swedish citizenship is the one I earned.
This afternoon, I will attend a special citizen ceremony for naturalized Swedes who were granted citizenship during 2006. Because I live in the small municipality of Solna, I will attend the ceremony for Solna residents, which will be held at Confidencen, a small theater on the grounds of Ulriksdal Palace, just fifteen minute’s walk from my home. Were I to live in Stockholm proper, I would attend the ceremony at Stockholm's landmark city hall, where the Nobel Prize ceremony is held each December 10th.
The ceremony will consist of musical entertainment, a speech, the handing-out of welcome notices to new citizens, and then the singing of the Swedish National Song, Du gamla, Du fria. I spent a while last night making sure I knew the words by heart. Now my only problem will be making it through both verses without choking up. I'm a sentimental guy, and the song is quite moving.
Åsa and Patric will accompany me and take photos. After the ceremony, a snack of some kind will be served (perhaps with a drink — the invitation doesn't say). Just in case, I have a bottle of chilled champagne and a set of hand-blown Orrefors flutes I've never used; so a celebratory drink will be in order.
In a bit less than month, it will be time to celebrate my other national day, the Fourth of July. I'm planning to have a cookout with friends on that day, and to serve my world-famous hamburgers.
For the curious, here's a bit more information about the national emblems of Sweden, including a link to a good recording of the national anthem. And for a bit of history, here's a link to blog entry I made on this day last year.