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International Workers' Day

International Workers' Day 2017 and 2018

International Workers’ Day in Sweden is also called Labour Day or May Day. It occurs on May 1st each year and is a holiday that celebrates the working class.

20171 MayMonInternational Workers' Day
20181 MayTueInternational Workers' Day

In Sweden, most holidays fall into two categories – a Christian holiday or a non-Christian celebration. International Workers’ Day is considered a Christian holiday because of the celebration of the Mass of Saint Walburga, also referred to as Walpurgis Night, which falls on the night of April 30th.

The History of International Workers’ Day in Sweden

Many of the ceremonies that have emerged in Sweden on this day stem from the centuries-old, traditional May Day celebrations that occur across Europe. In the past, this day was used as a time to celebrate spring and the rebirth taking place in nature. The holiday dates back to pagan cults, which were known for worshipping various symbols of nature, including trees. According to tradition, this day is characterised by gathering flowers, dancing around the maypole, and other similar activities. Today, the first of May is a holiday celebrating the working class.

In the modern era, the first of May has long been celebrated in several ways since back in 1890. In the early part of the 19th century, it was a huge and popular festival hosted in Djurgarden Park that featured a royal procession. However, by the end of the 19th century, it turned more into a rally of industrial workers. While it is much more low key today than in the past, it is still an important event for the people of Sweden. Also, while this date is traditionally marked by dancing around the maypole, this activity does not take place in Sweden. This is due to the often frigid temperatures present this time of year.

What to Expect in Sweden on International Workers’ Day

Since this is considered a national holiday, all government offices, schools, and most businesses remain closed. It is traditional for the Swedish people also to celebrate the eve of these holidays, which is why many businesses are also closed April 30th.

If you plan to visit the area, or are simply unfamiliar with what to expect on this day, you may find the information here helpful. It is extremely popular for many people to use this holiday to arrange peaceful protests and demonstrations about worker’s rights. These are often held outside of government buildings, or even down main town streets.

If you are visiting Stockholm during this time, you are likely going to encounter marchers throughout the city waving banners in Sergels Torg, as well as other large squares and parts of the city. Many people also host large community lunches and dinners, allowing those celebrating and protesting to enjoy time together; however, this is only organised in certain parts of the city.

If you are planning to visit Sweden on the first of May, it is best to have everything needed in tow. All offices and most businesses remain closed from April 30th to May 1st in observance of this holiday.