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Your guide to maximizing Swedish holidays 2018

Jan 16, 2018 anne_pihl
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Welcome to holiday paradise! If you have recently moved to Sweden, you are probably aware that full time employees are entitled to 25 days annual leave. Many employers offer even longer holidays and in addition to annual leave, there are public holidays, de facto holidays and “squeeze” days.

Your guide to Swedish holidays

This article is a guide to your Swedish holidays for 2018. As a newbie in Sweden,  it’s important to grasp that Swedes take holidays seriously and that you will be expected to do so too, both in terms of your own work/life balance and in terms of respecting your colleagues’ time off.  Don’t be afraid to discuss holidays; planning is both expected and appreciated.

Maximizing your holiday and work calendar

You need to get on top of the Swedish calendar to ensure that your work life runs smoothly and to make the most of your time off. Scheduling important meetings during holiday periods will not be appreciated by your colleagues, customers or suppliers so it’s strongly recommended to plan your work calendar to avoid clashes. The same is true for organizing events. When it comes to holidays,  early bookings are strongly recommended as Swedes like to plan ahead. Skiing holidays, for example, are often booked at least 6 months in advance, leaving very slim pickings for late comers. It’s also normal to take at least 3 consecutive weeks for summer holiday. July is peak holiday time in Sweden, when most organisations run on a skeleton staff or close completely. The standard summer holiday period is from Midsummer’s Eve (22nd June) to mid-August.

A great year for Christmas holidays

Christmas falls really well this year from a holiday point of view. By requesting 2 days leave on Thursday and Friday December 27th and 28th you can have 11 consecutive days holiday. This will be a very popular break so make sure to get your request for annual leave in early.

3 holiday terms you should know

  • Red days
  • De facto days
  • Squeeze days

What are red days?

Red days are the literal translation from Swedish of “röda dagar”, the name given to Swedish public holidays as they are usually marked in red in calendars.

What are de facto holidays?

De Facto holidays are holidays that are not official holidays but are commonly treated as such by employers. Most employees working regular office hours do not work these days. De facto half holidays often mean that you have the afternoon off, but this varies depending on the employer. Many employees who have half days off have a slightly longer work week during the rest of the year to compensate for the time off and/or to combine with a whole day off.

What are squeeze days?

Squeeze days (the literal translation from Swedish of “klämdagar”) are days that fall between a public holiday and the weekend, which Swedes usually take off. The most common squeeze days in Sweden is probably the Friday after Ascension Thursday i.e. Friday 11th May 2018, which nearly everyone takes off. Some workplaces work squeeze days into their official holidays whilst others need to take this as a day’s leave.

Week numbers – another Swedish concept you need to know

Swedes often use the concept of week numbers when referring to dates and planning meetings, which can be confusing. E.g. “How does week 24 look for you?” Here is an overview of Swedish week numbers in 2018. If you would like to quickly check what week number it is, see, which has the sole function of boldly displaying the current week number. It’s also common, for example, to hear that someone has less flexibility for meetings on odd, or alternatively, even number weeks as this is when it is their turn to pick up kids from daycare or school.

Public holidays in Sweden 2018

1 Jan (Monday)  New Year’s Day (Swedish: Nyårsdagen).
Note: 5 Jan (Friday) Twelfth Night (Swedish: Trettondagsafton). A de facto half-day. Check with your employer if you have this half day off.
6 Jan (Saturday) Epiphany (Swedish: Trettondedag jul).
30 Mar (Friday) Good Friday (Swedish: Långfredagen).
2 April (Monday) Easter Monday (Swedish: Annandag påsk).
Note: 30 April (Monday) is Walpurgis Eve (Swedish: Valborgsmässoafton). A de facto half-day. Check with your employer if you have this half day off.
1 May (Tuesday) May Day (Swedish: Första maj).
10 May (Thursday) Ascension Day (Swedish: Kristi himmelsfärdsdag).
20 May (Sunday) Pentecost Sunday/Whit Sunday (Swedish: Pingstdagen).
6  June (Wednesday) Swedish National Day (Swedish: Sveriges nationaldag).
Note: 22 June (Friday) Midsummer’s Eve (Swedish: Midsommarsafton).  A de facto holiday. Check with your employer if you have this day off. Most people do and you may even have a half-day on the Thursday.
23 June (Saturday) Midsummer’s Day (Swedish: Midsommar).
Note: 2 Nov (Friday) All Saints’ Eve (Swedish: Alla helgons afton). A de facto half-day. Check with your employer if you have a half day.
3 Nov (Saturday) All Saints’ Day (Swedish: Alla helgons dag).
Note: 24  Dec (Monday) Christmas Eve (Swedish: Julafton). A de facto holiday. Check with your employer if you have this day off. Most people do.
25 Dec (Tuesday) Christmas Day (Swedish: Juldagen).
26 Dec (Wednesday) Boxing Day (Swedish: Annandag jul).
Note:  31 Dec (Monday) New Year’s Eve (Swedish: Nyårsafton).  A de facto holiday. Check with your employer if you have this day off. Most people do.

Working on public holidays

If you have to work on a public holiday (e.g. shift work), you are likely to get extra pay for working on this day or to get time off in lieu. Check with your employer about your organisation’s approach to these days.

Swedish school holidays 2018

The following dates are for public schools in Stockholm. (Note: School holidays can vary by school and by region, especially for the sports break, so always check with your child’s school)

  • Spring terms starts 8 Jan
  • Sports break : 26 Feb – 2 March
  • Easter break : 3-6 April (Note: 2 April is a public holiday)
  • Summer holidays: 8 June (last day of term)
  • Autumn term: 20 Aug (first day of term)
  • Autumn mid-term break: 29 Oct – 2 Nov
  • Christmas holidays: 20 Dec last day of term (Spring terms starts 9 Jan)

We hope you have a great 2018 and that you enjoy every minute of your holidays!

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