**Added notes are in Bold**
Dear Swedes, at home and abroad, & everyone in Sweden!
"Ett barn är fött på denna dag/ A child is born on this day." So begins one of our most well-known Christmas carols, with lyrics by reformer Martin Luther.
("Ett barn är fött på denna dag" is a Swedish Christmas song partly based on Luther's "Vom Himmel hoch" hymn.)
Christmas is a Christian feast. We celebrate it in memory of Jesus' birth. But the message of Christmas - of peace, joy and community - it is universal and can be embraced by all, no matter where you come from or what you believe in.
It also applies to the invitation that the Bible directs to us: carry each other's burdens! Do not weary in doing good.
I know there are many in our country who devote a lot of time and effort to this: to bear the burdens of others, to help the best you can.
We see it again and again in various crises in our society. After the terrorist attack on Drottninggatan There were many who showed what it means to be a human being. They acted with courage, consideration and action.
(The "Drottninggatan" or "Stockholm terror attack" took place in April on Drottninggatan shopping street in Stockholm. A truck was rammed into shoppers and crashed into the Åhlens department store. 5 were killed, 15 injured.)
This desire to help is also in everyday life. The hand that is stretched out to support, knocking on the door of a sick neighbor, inviting the lonely to join your community; The helping hand carries a tremendous power, far stronger than hatred, violence and mistrust.
The year 2017 will inevitably be associated with the terrorist attack in Stockholm in April. Five people lost their lives. To their families and close relatives, my family and I want to send our deepest sympathy this difficult first Christmas.
This year has also meant the beginning of an important conversation between us all. How do we treat each other with respect? How do we view each other? How do we strengthen accountability and civil courage? These are issues that have always been important. But that became particularly relevant after the autumn's many testimony of unacceptable violations.
How we answer these questions will shape the society in which our children and young people grow up. Therefore, I hope this is something we continue to talk about now and in the future
When I look back the year gone, there are some events that I will remember in particular:
In September, Aurora, the largest defense exercises in our country since the early 1990s, conducted more than 20,000 participants from eight countries and about 40 civilian authorities.
I had the privilege of going with Prince Carl Philip to visit both Gotland and Sörmland to see the exercises on site. In the field, in the air, and at sea I met defense workers and volunteers. Men and women with different backgrounds prepared to defend Sweden, our freedom and our democracy. For their dedication, I feel respect and gratitude.
The Bonn Climate Change Conference (in Bonn, Germany) in November was a confirmation about how important the 2015 Paris Agreement is. Rising global emissions are a big concern. But there are constructive forces that are prepared to take responsibility for the future.
Sweden is a relatively small country, but has large forests. For a long time, we have built up valuable knowledge on how the forest can be managed in a long-term sustainable manner. I am convinced that, with the help of these skills, we can make important contributions to meet the world's climate challenges.
In the evening of December 6th, Finnish Independence Day, blue & white lights were lit in many windows in our neighboring eastern country. A tradition that was given extra significance as Finland celebrated one hundred years as an independent nation.
In June, I participated with the other Nordic Heads of State in a nice ceremony at Hanaholmen Cultural Center, outside of Helsinki, to celebrate this 100th Anniversary. Many Swedes have their roots in Finland. Others are connected through personal ties. The Nordic community is strong, not just historically. We are neighbors and colleagues. We collaborate and share values of democracy and equality for all people. In business and sports, we are sometimes competitors. But above all, we are family and friends.
Sweden's relations with the Nordic countries are important. Like the relations with other countries in our world. We shall continue to care for these relationships.
2017 has been an eventful year. Even in my family: Crown Princess Victoria celebrated her 40th birthday with a joyful celebration in both Stockholm and in Öland.
The Crown Princess has also launched a series of hikes that will go through all of Sweden's landscape. To me, who always had a strong commitment to nature and the environment, it is gratifying to share this interest with my children. It is my hope that the scenic hikes will help more people become aware of the amazing nature that we all in Sweden have access to.
During the year, our family gained a new member: Prince Gabriel (Prince Carl Philip & Princess Sofia's 2nd Son). He was baptized just a few weeks ago in the winter adorned Royal Chapel at Drottningholm, with baptism water from our own source in Oland. And now we are looking forward to welcoming another baby next spring. (Princess Madeliene & Chris O'Neill's 3rd Child, due in March.)
I would like to thank you for all the good wishes that we have received during the year and for the warm reception that we get on our travels and visits to various places. My family and I greatly appreciate the thoughtfulness.
I began the Christmas greetings talking about carrying each other's burdens. We, humans, are reluctant to intrude. We do not want to burden others. It may require courage, both to offer help and to receive it. My wish for the coming year is that we will all find this courage. Being not only people but also human beings.
With this, my family and I wish everyone in our country a Merry Christmas with peace, joy and fellowship - and a happy New Year in 2018.
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