Sweden celebrates National Day. Gustavus I became the king of Sweden in 1523. Today Sweden still has a constitutional monarchy; the reigning monarch is King Carl XVI Gustaf. According to the CIA World Factbook, Sweden is about the size of California. This long, thin Scandinavian country is bordered by the Baltic Sea, and the climate ranges from sub-arctic in the north to temperate in the south. Over nine million people live in Sweden, and most of the population lives in the southern portion. Iron ore, timber, and hydropower contribute greatly to the economy. Stockholm is the capital. Children can learn more at: Sweden.
Finland celebrates Independence Day. It became free from Russia in 1917. For centuries Sweden and Russia have fought over Finland. Russia took over the country in 1809. According to the CIA World Factbook, Finland is slightly smaller than the state of Montana. Today Helsinki is the northernmost capital of any country in Europe. More than five million people live in Finland, and most live in a small coastal plain. Over three-fourths of the land is covered with forests. It exports timber and wood pulp.
Santa Lucia Day is celebrated in Sweden and other countries. Girls put on white dresses, wear a crown of candles, and wake their families with coffee, Lucia Buns (lussekatter or saffron buns), and music. During the evening church service, processions of girls honor Saint Lucy. For a Lucia Buns recipe, visit: Lucia Buns.