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Ascension Day

Ascension Day 2018 and 2019

Ascension Day in Sweden, according to the ecclesiastical calendar, is celebrated on the sixth Thursday after Easter. This day is always observed on a Thursday and is a red day, which means an official holiday in the country. The next day, which is Friday, is called a klamdag, which is a day that falls in between two days off. As a result, many people in Sweden celebrate Ascension Day as a four day weekend.

201810 MayThuAscension Day
201930 MayThuAscension Day
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In central and southern Sweden, it was stated that the fish would not bite before Ascension Day, which resulted in the holiday also being referred to as “forste metaredan,” or the first angling day. It also marks the start of the fishing season. It is important to go fishing on this day because the initial luck you have determines how much luck you are going to have during the entire season.

History of Ascension Day in Sweden

In Sweden, the observation of Ascension Day occurs each year and something that dates back hundreds of years. In fact, it dates back to the 300s and always falls on the Thursday that is 40 days after Easter Sunday. While the date varies based on when Easter falls, Ascension Day is always either after or on May 1st and before June 4th. During the Middle Ages, many people often performed dramas and participated in Ascension games. The reason behind this was to portray the physical action of Christ leaving Earth.

On Easter, the Swedish Church lights a large candle, which is the symbol of the triumph of life over death. When Ascension Day arrives, the candle is extinguished, which symbolises Jesus leaving the world.

What to Expect on Ascension Day in Sweden

The religious celebration associated with Ascension Day is gokotta, which is a church service and picnic that occurs at dawn. The goal is to allow everyone to hear the first birds of spring sing. However, the actual time that services typically occur is around 7:30 AM. If the birds sound from the east or the west, it signifies good tidings; however, if they come from the north or south it “bodes ill,” according to tradition.

Another historical activity that many young Swedes participate in on this day is visiting a nearby parish sharing the good news of the day and performing a dance. While this activity is not as widespread as it was in the past, most people still sing and play music on this day.

If you plan to visit Sweden on Ascension Day, it is a good idea to know what is going to go on. Since it is an official holiday in the country, all government offices and schools are closed. Also, most businesses remain closed for the entirety of the four-day period making it a long holiday weekend. This means if you plan to visit, it is a good idea to get everything you need ahead of time since most stores remain closed during this period.