Happy Swedish National Day tomorrow! It celebrates their liberation from the Danes in 1523. Curious people the Danes: mild and friendly today, Lego, Hans Christian Anderson, lovely open sandwiches… But 500-1000 years ago they were bloodthirsty monsters, stabbing, axeing, gouging out people’s eyes, cutting off their privates, beheading 80+ Swedish nobles and clergy in the infamous Stockholms Blodbad (1520); that’s years after the end of the Viking age, when my ancestors in eastern England were their terrified victims. It proves the point I’ve made before in connexion with British imperialism: it’s not people’s nationality that makes them awful, or – on the other hand – nice, but the circumstances of their time and place. I’m sure I’d have been awful then. (Or dead.)
Swedes of course are different. Always peaceful and Social Democratic underneath, even if they didn’t know it. Even their Vikings were just peaceful traders, in the East. (Traders in slaves, that is. I’m being ironic.) So I hope they enjoy their Nationaldag. I won’t. The pub on our island is closed. How can you celebrate a national day without beer?