The Order of Innocence was established in 1765 during Sweden's Gustavian Age. At the time, a variety of Orders flourished in Sweden, as they did in the majority of other countries in Europe, with a large number of Orders striving to achieve different ends via a range of different rituals. They were modelled on the medieval guilds and fraternities, but with more of a social aspect as they were closely connected with the Court and the aristocracy.
During the Gustavian Age, the mechanical view of the world was suppressed. Art, music and literature were at their peak; architecture was designed with people in mind; social life blossomed; fashion was tasteful if extravagant, and craftsmanship reached perhaps its very highest pinnacle of achievement. Even today, Bellman, Lenngren, Haupt, Sergel, Kellgren and Kraus provide evidence of Sweden's great cultural heyday.
It was no longer the landscaped surroundings of humanity that were nearest to God. In the tiniest details of flowers, the construction of insects and the entirely untouched design of the natural world, Linnaeus saw a higher order. God was visible in nature: "Let us return to nature", said Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Now came a longing for the rustic life and the innocent passions it entailed. Gustaf III saw in nature a heavenly diversity and beauty which, if handled with care, could be brought forth and experienced with fully open senses. We allowed emotional outbursts, tears, sighs, amorous passions and games.
"It is through the respectable exploitation of pleasure that we reinforce our senses to bear with mirth and strength the often arduous concerns of life". Quotation from the Order's statutes.
Today's Order has two objectives: to carry out charitable activities and develop membership benefits, and to celebrate the Order's Commemoration Day – the Day of Solemnity. On this day the Order assembles its members for an Order Chapter with a Grand Reception during which new prospective members ("Recipiends") are welcomed in a spirit of joyful friendship in the elegant setting of the Ceremonial. These proceedings are always followed by a Grand Ball in an atmosphere of conviviality – including dancing and other forms of innocent amusement – during which the new members are able to experience the joy that true and honest friendship can bring. The Grand Ball unites youthful freshness with the time-honoured traditions of the Gustavian epoch, its more chivalrous forms of social intercourse and more graceful dancing.