Unproblematic Patriotism

Visits to Sweden for a German kid used to be visits to a land of seemingly uncomplicated patriotism.


Most houses in the countryside have a flagpole, most of them usually fly a triangular, blue-and-yellow standard (vimpel) and on holidays, the big Swedish flags come out. They formed as much a part of the landscape as an impression that being a neutral country must also mean that you were allowed to take some joy in your country. When I was a kid, there were virtually no visible German flags. That has changed and most people date the change to hosting the World Cup in 2006 when black-red-gold became a cheerful sign of welcoming the world to Germany.
To my surprise, I saw far fewer flags in Sweden over the holidays. The flagpoles are still there, some vimple as well, but on the Christmas weekend, we saw very few flags. We dutifully raised the Swedish flag at sunrise (mercifully for this duty, some time after 8h) and took it back down at sundown (after 15h), as did our neighbour, but few other flagpoles seemed to be flying the flag.

I have not heard/read anything that would suggest a more complicated relationship between swedes and their flag, maybe it’s no longer fashionable to fly the flag, or maybe it’s more of a summer thin?

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