Saturday, June 07, 2008

Sweden’s National Day in Stockholm

June 6th is Sweden’s national day. The equivalent of the 4th of July in the US. Except for the whole independence thing. And fireworks. And rodeos. And hotdog eating contests. And all of that all-American stuff. Actually, this whole 6th of June thing is kind of new to Swedes. It was just recently that it became an official red day. In fact, I believe it replaced one more of those Easter related holidays that Swedes are so fond of, Pingst, or as all English speakers know it as, the ever popular Whitsunday. Seven weeks after Easter of course.

But instead of rodeos, fireworks, and hotdog eating contests what makes the news in Sweden on the 6th of June is neo-Nazis trying to hijack it and turn it into some perverted display of the need for Swedish purity. Swedish nationalism at its best really. After they started paying homage to Hitler police stepped in. Turns out that over 100 were arrested for racial agitation.

So while some people just were pumped to have a day off from work, some beautiful weather, maybe a trip to Skansen to see the Swedish royal family, others took the time to light cars on fire and fight with the anti-facists. Good times all around really.

On a happy note though, over 50,000 yellow and blue balloons were released near Stockholm’s castle. And I’m sure that pleased the neo-Nazis and anti-facists, because nearly everyone loves balloons. The green party may not have been too thrilled but come on; Sweden makes concessions to them every other day of the year.

I, in a thrilling display of activity on my day off, sat my ass inside all day and read and watched Friday Night Lights. You know, to celebrate being a Swedish national.


  1. Hopefully the National day is becoming more seen and more celebrated in Sweden and one day even as magnificent and lively as the Norwegians syttonde mai. Shame about the Nazis, though.

    Apropo nothing, have you watched the Euros yet? Sweden is playing in two days. Probably a pretty boring match, though, since our opponents are super defensive Greece...

  2. yeah from what I read and saw on the news it seems it is getting to be celebrated a bit more which is good. of course its the idiots who manage to get the headlines.

    I have watched the Euros. And I still just don't get it. I've actually watched at least a little bit from every game played so far. Maybe tonight will be better with the group of death playing. at least that's what everyone has been saying.

  3. I’ll post a long one here, and it is about football since you wrote that you still don’t get it. So perhaps this might help.

    I’m a big sports fan who follows a lot of different sports, but football differs from most other sports. In game of football (as opposed to for example hockey, basketball or handball) the goals are very few and far between, even though the matches are longer. The same goes for chances, shots and saves. In hockey it is not uncommon for a game to end 3-3 or 5-2. Approximately one goal every ten minutes and often one shot per minute, while in football a lot of games have no goals at all. So far the average in Euro 2008 has been one goal per 60 minutes and one shot on target every 10 minutes.

    In football, the thrill is to know that a lot of games end 0-0 or 1-0, so getting one goal means everything. In all games of the Euro 2008, the first team to score won the game. In half of the games, that first goal was the only goal. So you should probably think of the game as almost like a sudden death in hockey, one goal is very likely to win or lose you the game.

    And as the groups of Euro 2008 consists of only 4 teams out of which 2 qualify for the play offs, losing the opening game leaves you in a very tough spot. The ones you lost against will have three points and the winner of the other game in your group will have 3 points and you only have two games to catch up. This means that you will need to win both of the remaining games or possibly get a draw and a big win, big enough to get you through on goal margin. If you’re knocked out, you’ll have to wait four long years and hope to qualify for the next Euro in 2012, as the tournament is only played once every 4 years.

    So as the first game is vital and one goal in that game is often decisive, one disastrous moment can practically knock you out. So when you see your goalie save, you know that he probably saved the tournament just there. And when you see a pass that almost gets through to the forward, you know that that attack just could have made all the difference. This is why true football supporters tend to get so overly excited about things that don’t look like much.

    Since football doesn’t offer that many goals, shots or tackles, it definitely helps to have a favourite team. If you are indifferent to the outcome, it is hard to get excited about a pass that gets intercepted. If you don’t have any relation to any of the teams playing, you could always bet some money (little enough to not hurt your economy, big enough to get you to care about the result), and then join the supporters of the team you bet on.

  4. Hairy Swede - Hopefully you get into it. Otherwise at least you know that you don't like the sport and then you can give it a rest and

    Snefald - It's not that uncommon to have a game of football end 3-3 either. I've seen quite a few of them and I've heard of a lot matches that ended with that score. I've seen a lot of matches where the score after tha game is about 5-2 or something similar, like 5-3, 4-2, 5-1 etc. It's not that uncommon. Especially not in the Spansh leauge, which is the most attacking and entertaining football leauge. I have no favourite Spanish team but I still get very excited about the games that are being played there, in general. The English leauge also offers quite a few high scoring matches, even Champions leauge does. Actually I would say some of the best and most enjoyable football is being played in La Liga and Champiopns leauge.

    But you're right though, there are a lot of low scoring games in football. Definetly in the first couple of matches in this Euro, so far. Unfortunately the Euros and the world cup has become more defending and less open and attacking. But hopefully that will change with the following matches in the Euros this year.

    You're also right about the goals in football "meaning more" than, for example ice hockey and definetly American football and basketball. Something which I think brings something else to the game of football. It's not that exciting when, like in basketball, where goals are scored every minute or something. But that's just how I feel...

  5. I'm sure we'll start having "sill, potatis, ägg och köttbollar" the 6 of june soon aswell, though it is abit close to the "smörgåsbord" we got on midsummer.

  6. Caught most of the Germany Poland match the other day. Very exciting, but what's up with all the pretend falls and fake injuries? Seems the Italians did this a lot and it won them a world cup... I have to say, as a burgeoning soccer fan, this annoys me, especially when legitimate fouls like, say, a pole stomping on that german's crotch go uncarded... Not that the German's don't deserve it, but still...

  7. @snefald and robban - I appreciate the effort. But I just sat through the Romania - France game. 0-0. While I actually thought your comparison to the first goal almost being like a goal in sudden death my problem is that the game doesn't just end there. First one to score wins. Instead a team scores in the 21st minute and we still have over an hour to find out that, yup, that was in fact the only goal.

    @Anonymous- give it time...

    @john - the fake injuries are what I can't stand. Constantly they fall down, they roll around, complaining, hiding their faces as if they are about to cry. Last night I saw a guy go down and first start rubbing his shin, then moved his hand up and decided that no it was in fact his knee that hurt, and a few seconds later change his mind again and decide that his thigh was hurting.

    of all the guys I saw fall down I think I only cringed twice. once when an attacker banged into the goalie pretty hard in midair. looked like it hurt. and I had no problem with him roling around for a bit. but the guys who get their feet tangled a bit and then writhe around in pain for a couple of mnutes to make sure that everyone sees them... they suck.

  8. John,
    The diving and reaction to being "injured" is definitely pathetic and as a soccer fan I find it embarrassing. I understand that people will argue its part of the game but that doesnt make it makes soccer players look soft even-though they are not.
    I am proud to say that you almost never see that out of American players and from the games I've seen of Sweden they are not ones to dive and roll around like they just broke their leg either.

    As far people loving soccer or finding it boring I think to each their own. An American that doesnt like soccer is no different then a European that doesnt enjoy baseball or American football...all sports have their "special nuances" and "creative moments" that are tough for someone that doesnt follow the sport to understand.
    ONe other thing I'll mention is how experience playing the sport helps you appreciate watching it more..if a person grows up playing a sport like soccer and watches someone on tv pull off an amazing pass or dribble past players I would bet they would have a greater appreciation when watching the game.
    if someone never played baseball or soccer it would be hard for them to appreciate the game right???

  9. Well, to be fair , hairy Swede, the Romania-France game did suck infinetly. The later game this night was pretty good though. Holland won over Italy with 3-0. Italy had their chances in the second half, really good too, but they just couldn't get them behind the keeper. Congrats top Holland, they were a lot better than Italy and they never stopped attacking. Probably the best match in the Euros so far. Shame you caught the wrong match for the day.

  10. Youre definitely right about the fake injuries and such. They ruin the game. "Filmningar" we call them in Sweden.

  11. yeah seriously, I caught the first part of the holland italy game and then bailed. and then I came back and it was 3-0 so somehow I managed to miss all 3 goals that were scored tonight despite watching well over 100 minutes of soccer. which has to be some sort of record for me. Ill give it another shot tomorrow night.

    I might poke some fun at soccer but Im trying to watch at least. that should count for something...

  12. I do appreciate you H.S. trying to get into soccer for real. Even if you didn't like it in the end, at least you tried. By contrast, I wouldn't want to watch one whole American football nor baseball game. It doesn't seem to make any sense to me. Can't understand what's all that commotion about. So, I respect what you do anyway.

    Think of it this way: you go to a restaurant. If you don't score, it's 0-0, but it wouldn't stop you from having an exciting evening anyway. :)

  13. smeks always putting things into perspective