Swedish Boys' Clothes: Activities

Figure 1.-- Here we see a Sunday school outing in Sweden. The church was located at Långshyttan and the photograp taken in 1927. It is a good glimse of what Swedish children were wearing in the 1920s. Click on the image to see the rest of the group.

HBC has collected information on a variety of activities in which Swedish boys have participated in over time. Many of these activiities involve specialized costumes. Often the children. however, just wore their ordinary clothes. The available images thus show trends in Swedish boys' clothing over time. The activities include choir, dance, games, music, religious observation, school, sport, and many others. Sweden is located in northern Europe, extending from the Baltic toward the Arctic Cirle. The cold climate of course affect activities, especially outdoor activities.. Some of these images are interesting because they depict life-style information in addition to fashion. We have begun to develop some information on Swedish schools. We also are developing some interest on religion in Sweden. The country played an important role in the Protestant Revolution. The most important holiday in Sweden in Chtristmas. Swedish Christmas is best known for the St. Lucia celebration.


We are not sure when summer camping began in Sweden. We note Swedish boys going to summer camp in the years after World War I. This seems to be an effor for underprivlidged city children. We note a boy in 1925 being taken to one of the archipelago steamers and then out to a Childrens´ Summer Holiday Camp in the countryside. In Stockholm there was/is a whole isle out in the archipelago intended for young children, who needed to get away from the big city and to see some nature sceneries and lakes to swim in. This isle is called "Barnens ö", which means "Childrens´Isle". By the way - the Stockholm Archipelago is a haven and contains more than 25.000 isles - one of the biggest and most beautiful in the world and still there are old, renovated steamers taking Stockholmers and tourists from all over the world out to this paradise. This is unique that close to a big city.

Folk Traditions

Interest in traditional folk culture began to develop in Europe at about the same gime that the industril revolution and the modern economy began to take shape (late-18th century). This development affected sweden along with the rest of Europe. The more the industrial revolution and urbnization progressed, the more the interest in traditional and rural origins. We see this in the art through out Europe with painters depicting rural imges in idelic, romantic terms. In Sweden, Pastor Arvid August Afzelius was a leading figure. With the 19th century, the historical development of nations became a popular academic topic. Annd by mid-century we behin to see collections beginning that would lad to modrn regional museums. Eventually the Swedish government began documentation of folk culture. Skansen in Stockholm and Lund Culture inspired the creation of local open-air museums and heritage centers. Industrialization and the associated urbanizatiom created a nostalgic feeling for the old rural culture and a feeling of loss that the oldSweden they grew up with was rapidly disappearing. Thus many came to belive that the folk culture had to be protected for posterity. Interest in folk culture was a first an interest of educated people who engaged in ethnographic study. Ordinary Swedes were more interested in modernization ans urbanization which was beining a better life style. Gradually as the Swedish people became more prosperous in the late-19th century, ordinary people becam increasingly intereted in their origins and folk culture. Leksands handicraft (founded 1904) and the Hembygdsförbund, based on the initiative of painter Gustaf Ankarcrona played a major role in the developmnt folk movement.


Swedish holidays are similar to those in other European countries. They include both Christian and secular national holidays. The religious holidays are shared with other Christian countries. Most holidays in Sweden as igenrally the case in Europ are rooted in religious tradition, although in the modern de-Cristianized age these traditions are no longer fervently celebrated as they once were. Many of the nationl holidays are specific to Sweden. The most important holisay for children as in most of the rest of Europe is jul/yule (Christmas with pre-Christian Nordic features). An important part of the of the Swedish jul (yule)/Christmas tradition is the celebration of Lucia (Saint Lucia Day). White-clad girls and boys sing Christmas songs to spread light in the northern December darkness. St. Lucia is the only saint to be celebrated in Lutheran Sweden, the tradition is also celebrated in Norway and Finland (once part of the Swedish Kingdom). The other Christian holidays are trettondedag jul (Epiphany), påsk (Easter), Kristi himmelsfärds dag (Ascension Day), pingstdagen (Pentecost) and alla helgons dag (All Saints' Day). The national holidays are: nyårsdagen (New Year's Day), första maj (May Day/Labor Day), Sveriges nationaldag (National Day) and midsommar (Midsummer). Midsommar like Lucia is destinctly Swedish. The mythical Midsummer has Swedes dance dancing around a maypole left standing from May Day in June while the the sun never seems to set. Many other lesser holidays are celebrated in Sweden, many at the local level. Like other Europeans, the Swedes now make four-day week ebds when the hoidays fall on Thuesday and Thursday.


We do not have much information on Swedish outdoor activities. Popular outings in Sweden seem similar to those we have noted in other European countries. These were commonly family activities, but schools and churches might also organize outings for the children. The outings were organized to a variety of facilities and locations. We do have some information about Swedish parks. There were also Baltic beaches that families enjoyed. Picmiking is a popular family activity that the children enjoy. We also see families having picnics out in the country. Another popular activity for children was going to the movies which for children was normally on the weekend. As regards outings we are often talking about family activities, althoughb teen agers might get involved in outings with friends, such as biking and hiking.


Parties are popular children's activities. Presumably the mpst popular parties are birthday parties. Tbis appears to be a cross-cultural celebration not only throughout Europe, but around the world. But there are also parties associated with holidays and other celevrations like First Communion and Conformation. We do not know a lot about the different kinds of parties in Sweden. As a Luthern country, presumably Confirmation parties are important. Schools and churches may hve orgnized parties around major holidays. We do not know much about this, but the photograohic record provides some insights. We see rathr formalized parties in the mid-20th cntury which children dressed up and sitting down at a table for treats like cake and icecream. We see the same in America. Presumbly there would hvev been party games. We are not sure if the birthday extravaganza parties now popular in America have become popular in Sweden.


Children of course love to play games. Our information on outdoor play in Sweden is still quite limited. We believe they played many of the same games that other European children played. We see Swedish boys playing a game that looks a bit likecrugby, but without teams. We have, however, begun to add some information and images to our archive. We do not know much about specifically Swedish games. We note an old Viking game that is still played--Kubb. The game Kubb, a classic Viking game, is another popular game in Sweden. Kubb can be played with children as young 6 years old or so. You only ned a small number of players, three will do or a larger group can ply. The game is played by throwing sticks at a 'king'. The king can be any handy object. The children can play with a game they put together or niwadys prents cn purchase a Kubb game set. Indoor games include many European favorites. A popular Swedish game is Svea Rike (Rule Sweden). It is a card gane based on 300 years of Swedish history. It involves power plays and masterminding. A range of winter activities because of the climate are popular in Sweden. Popular activities include sleding, skiing, and skating. Yongr boys can enjoy sleding, but skiing and skating involve skills that only school age children cn dvelop. We note some Swedish children, mostly boys, enjoying bicycles. Until after World War II, the bike, however, was still mostly limited to children from families in comfortabke circumstances, meaning middle-class children. Most of the images we have found show boys riding bikes. Hopefully our Swedish readers will add some insights to thus section on outdoor play.


We have some limited information about Swedish schools. We have not yet researched the Swedish school system. Swedish children have not worn school uniforms. Sweden is located in northern Europe, thus the climate is a very important factor affecting schoolwear and clothing in general. Sweden is influenced by European styles, but we see some substantial differences which look to be strongly influenced by the climate. We note considerable seasonal differences. We see children wearing a lot of cold weather garments like jackets, coats, and sweaters. We do have a few images from Swedish schools which provide some informtion on schoolwear in various eras. As uniforms were not worn, these school portraits provide a very useful look at children's clothing in Sweden over time. The image here shows a typical Swedish school class in 1952 (figure 1). Hopefully our Swedish readers will provide us some information on Swedish schools and schoolwear.


The idea of sport began to sevelop in Europe (late-19th century). It was primarily gymnastics and this was what first appeared in Sweden. The idea of team sports was more of an English import. And here two English imprts have proven especially popular: hockey and soccer (football). English fied hockey seems to have morphed into ice hockey. Sweden is located in northern Europe, extending from the Baltic toward the Arctic Circle. The cold climate of course affects activities, including children's activities, especially outdoor activities. Thus we see cold weather ice and now sports like skiing and skating. Hockey is a particularly popular sport in Sweden. And as a result, Sweden is particularly known for hockey. This is, however, a difficult sport for a younger child to learn. As in the rest of Europe, soccer is also a major sport in Sweden. Soccer has the advantage that children can begin playing very early. It is played as a a club sport. European countries generally have never developed the trdition of inter-scholastic sports that became so popular in America. Sweden's northerly climate limits the outdoor season, but I believe that there are indoor facilities. Another popular sport in Sweden is swimming, although until indoor poos were built, the season was rather limited.


We also are developing some information on religion in Sweden. Sweden is a mostly Protestant country. The country played an important role in the Protestant Revolution, supporting the northern German states in their fight for Protestantism within the Holy Roman Empire. The Church of Sweden 'svenska kyrkan' is Lutheran. Most of the Swedish people are members. Today in Sweden there are several other Christian and non-Christian denominations. There re small numbers of Catholics, Baptists, and Pentecoastals. There is also the Covenant Church of Sweden 'Svenska missionsförbundet' which is related to the Reformed Churches. There are also Muslims and Jews. Here we see a Sunday school outing in Sweden. The church was located at Långshyttan and the photograp taken in 1927. It is a good glimse of what Swedish children were wearing in the 1920s.


We do not yet have much information on child labor in Sweden. We do note reports of child auctions during the 19th century, but do not yet have details. Child labor was primarily in anagriculture. Boys in the towns and cities night be appreticed. This began to chsange with the the industrial revolution of the 19th century, Although there cointinued to be child labor in the agricultural sector. Sweden and the Scandinavian countries in general were among the leaders in addressing the problem of child labor. The Government passed a law to limit the hours children worked and to provide for government payments to health insurance funds established by workers' groups. Regulations protecting women working in mines were ot passed until the turn-of-the 20th century. [Nordstrom, p.78.] Laws protecting women also had a direct impact on chidren as they were the primary csare givers for young children. The Government was histile towaed organized labor throughout the 19h century which impacted working-class children, both children to young to work and those entering the labor force. We are not sure yet when compulsory school attendance was introduced. This of course was a key step in limiting child labor.

Youth Groups

We have very little information on Swedish youth groups at this time. We know that Scouting was popular in Sweden, but we have very little information about the movement in Sweden at this time. We have no information on any other Swedish youth groups other than Scouting. Sweden was not occupied by the Germans in World War II thus there were no Fascist youth groups promoted by the NAZIs. We do note a group of Scouts being mobilized about 1940 to assrsst in case Sweden was attacked. They even had military steel helments, I do not know if there were any indiginous nationalist youth movement in Sweden. Hopefully readers will be able to tells us something about Swedish youth movements.


Nordstrom, Byron J. The Historyof Sweden.


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Created: 5:55 AM 6/26/2004
Last updated: 11:58 PM 12/1/2018