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I assume it would be polite to first address the Birthday Kid. Happy Independence Day, America! And God Bless for the rain! Michigan doesn’t feel like Florida anymore.

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It is funny how you guys started setting the starry sky on fire like one week before Independence Day arrived. Not that I didn’t enjoy them. My friends and I made plenty of Hunger Games jokes. I just find it funny, because in Sweden, we don’t give ourselves a head-start. We celebrate on the actual day of our National Day, which is June 6th, and then it’s done. Maybe we are more humble as a country; I could be wrong, but this is my understanding of the Swedish culture (haven’t been there for almost eight years, so excuse me).

Nationalism and Neo-Nazis

In general, we aren’t encouraged be patriotic. I’m not sure when exactly it started, maybe in the 1900s when more immigrants entered Sweden… many Turks, Italians, people from Eastern Europe and so on; at one point, nationalism became a touchy subject. In the last ten to maybe even 20 years, it’s grown worse. The thing is, if you declare that you’re proud to be a Swede, or show any sign of patriotic passion that might “excess the general public’s feelings,” people typically mistake you for being racist. It’s quite judgmental, but it is based on fear actually rather than ignorance. There is a group of people in Sweden who do not want immigrants entering our country and they want the “pigs” out.

Neo-Nazis.

We got them all over Scandinavia, with an exception from Iceland perhaps. I haven’t heard of any groups hiding over there anyway and I doubt they would find reason to, um, “cause havoc” since it’s pretty much a purely agricultural land with little political influence or power. Anyhow, I personally find it embarrassing having these Hitler fans pretending to be “real men,” putting importance on… whiteness, Scandinavian blood and in some cases, Christianity. Hating Jews and people with darker skin, hating people who don’t agree with the Neo-Nazis’ views, people like Stieg Larsson for example.

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You know him. Stieg Larsson, author of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Back home, he is also largely known as the man from the newspaper Millennium, who wrote articles about the Neo-Nazis, creating awareness, warning people and most essentially, brought his opinions to the Swedish population and openly speaking against them. He received many death threats as a result of it… but that’s not what killed him, in case you wonder. Heart attack. The man smoked dozens of packs of cigarettes daily and ate so unhealthy, lots of pizza, and he was in stress while balancing his work and writing the trilogy. Though not a huge surprise, it’s a tragedy for the world of journalism and the world of literature.

Neo-Nazis aren’t what the Klu Klux Klan was back in the day. They’re actually a political party (far right), however, they have never had real power. (In Sweden, there are six political parties and every four years we have an election where we decide which party is to hold office. The chosen party then handles the governmental affairs. We don’t have a president or prime minister, only representatives for certain matters, such as financial issues, foreign issues, et cetera. In the last 20 years, the Social Democrats, the liberal party, have been in power which really suits me.) The Neo-Nazis stage protests once in a while, write letters, hold strange ceremonies by themselves and so on, but it is difficult to grasp a seat in the Parliament while wearing masks. Cowards! If they were really that proud for what they were, they would show their faces, but instead they cover their heads with ski masks. What’s fortunate is that they’re not openly violent (?).

Midsummer

We’re not indifferent to the National Day, but it’s greatly over-shadowed by Midsummer: I missed it for the eighth year in a row, additional to my grandparents’ 60th anniversary. My cousin also recently returned from New Zealand, which must be exciting for the rest of the family. If there’s one word to describe Kajsa, it is “absent.” She travels so much, it’s just insane and I’m completely envious of her. Midsummer is on the third Friday of June and it is a feast to celebrate the summer with friends and family. We make wreaths out of flowers and wear them on our heads, we indulge ourselves from “smörgåsbordet,” the smorgasbord (a table filled with food and drink) and we spend the day dancing, singing and playing games outside. Half the songs are being sung during the dance, while in some cases, people play instruments outside the crowd; the other half is sung by the table, right before you swallow your snaps. I remember when I was a kid, my brothers and I would run up to Pappa, Mamma and the other adults and beg them for the small, empty snaps bottles. We would amuse ourselves by filling the bottles with soda and sing along before downing it. Now I’m old enough to have a snaps, and experienced enough to make my wreath beautiful, too. My cousin Camilla (or maybe someone else) would know how to braid the flowers so that they wouldn’t stick out in all directions.

One Midsummer, me, the boys, Pappa and Uncle Hans went fishing. That is something I look forward to doing next week. I hope we can camp in the UP.

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