On the 6th June this year (Sweden’s national day), it was three years since my Swedish citizenship ceremony, four years since I received citizenship, and exactly 20 years since I first came to Sweden.
I came to Sweden on a work permit, so I could apply for permanent residence after 5 years (unlike the 3 year requirement if you came on a spousal visa), but I was here as an EU citizen (Irish) anyway so I never saw the point of taking Swedish citizenship.
That is until my worst trip ever, when I was robbed and stranded in South Africa, unable to get back to Sweden. Ireland couldn’t help me as I didn’t live there, and Sweden could not help me because I was not a citizen.
So when I came back to Sweden I applied for citizenship. So that if anything ever happened to me in another country I could get back here.
When you become a Swedish citizen, you are given the opportunity to attend a ceremony in your home municipality on the 6th June after you become a citizen. You receive a certificate and there are speeches, performances by famous Swedish artists, and a coffee and Swedish pasty buffet. Because I live in Stockholm municipality, my party was in the famous Stockholm City Hall, where the Nobel Prize ceremony is held.
During my ceremony there were about 500 people in attendance, mostly from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
I noticed yesterday that the ceremony was crawling with British people. Which I thought was strange because 98% of the British people I know and have worked with in foreign countries during the course of my life have never taken another citizenship, even if they are permanently resident in said country.
Then it hit me – BREXIT! So I asked a student who works at the migration authority and was told that over the last year the number of citizenship applications from British citizens living long-term in Sweden has soared. They also apply for their families. In addition, there has also been a surge in the number of British people with Irish parents or grandparents applying for Irish citizenship. I suppose if you live and work permanently in the EU it is the wisest option if you wish to have free movement.
Interestingly, I was first in Sweden on 6th June 1997. It was hard to notice that it was a national day because it was a regular working day and there was no celebration anywhere except flags on the buses. It is still a pretty low-key celebration compared to 4th July, Bastille Day and even Norways national day (in May) though it is now a public holiday and you see more flags. I guess Sweden has not been at war for hundreds of years or been part of another country in recent times.