Finnish Swedish Heritage Day or Svenska Dagen in Swedish language or Ruotsalaisuuden Päivä in the Finnish language is a flag day, and it is celebrated in Finland every year on November 6.
Finland is a bilingual country according to its constitution and Swedish is the second official language; therefore, this day is the celebration for the culture of the Swedish-speaking population of Finland and its bilingualism.
Finnish Flag Days
Before talking about the Swedish-flag-day, let's first talk about what the flag-days are, and what it means.
There are official and national flag days marked and nominated in the Finnish calendar; these are the days in which the flag is flown. Flying the flag is by law performed from the public buildings on the official flag days. There are also other dates for which the flag is suggested to be raised like the official ones; these dates are also listed and written in the Finnish State Calendar.
Usually, the Ministry of the Interior also recommends other occasions to be the flag-day, which are not marked on the calendar. There are also occasions during the year when the Sámi people and the Åland Islands (Ahvenanmaa) have their own flying flag dates. For more information, visit Flag days 2019 and Flag Days.
It's an excellent and gracious way to highlight and differentiate an occasion with respect and honor, to celebrate, or to communicate, and manifest grief.
The History of Swedish Heritage Day
Finland has a minority of native Swedish-speaking citizens, also called as Swedes of Finland, which is 5% of the population.
When the new Swedish People's Party of Finland was founded, the Swedish-speaking Finnish community became stronger and they decided to have a celebration day for their culture and language. This Finnish Swedish Heritage Day was then made in 1908, which was the day of the death of King Gustavus Adolphus. This was also the time when the empire of Sweden was established.
Nowadays, many schools and kindergartens, communities, and associations plan and prepare the Finnish Swedish Heritage Day celebrations in Swedish-speaking regions. The song Modersmålets sång, composed and written by Johan Fridolf Hagfors, is the main part of these festivities.
It is the right in the constitution for Finnish Swedes to have Swedish education, which is publicly funded from kindergarten to university and to have other Swedish public services as well. The Swedes of Finland also have the right to express and speak to state authorities in Swedish.
Media, art, culture, literature
Although the Swedes of Finland are about 5 percent of the population, they occupy an essential place in the media, literature, and art. There are several radio channels and a TV channel, Swedish-language theatres in the capital of Helsinki, and newspapers.
As an example of a well-known and respected Finland-Swedish great artist, we would mention Tove Jansson, who created Moomin books, and Moomins. Her books are fascinating and famous among children and adults around the world, and Moomins are of Finland's most notable brands as exports. Some other famous Swedish speaker artists to mention are such as; national poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg, Finland's and worldwide-known composer Jean Sibelius, and Marshal C.G. Mannerheim, who was the military leader and guided Finland during the wars.
Saying all this, we could now understand and give an answer to the foreigners who are often surprised and would ask for the reason why Swedish is the second official language in Finland, although they are only covering 5 percent of the citizens in Finland.
According to Swedish-speaking Finnish journalist Anna-Lena Laurén, the Swedish language is solidly rooted in Finland; it is not a foreign language – it is part of the whole nation's cultural heritage.