The holidays have come and gone, and if you’re in the Midwest or another cold weather climate, you’re settling in for the full-fledged winter season.
For many of us in the U.S., January-March can be challenging, or even down right depressing, given the decrease in sunlight and increase in gray, overcast, snowy days. Even now, I’m sitting in front of my large windows watching the snow fall in the Chicago area at about an inch an hour and thinking about how Narnia was described in the Chronicles movie – “always winter, never Christmas.” Seriously, where was all this snow at Christmas?! Side note to Mother Nature, snow is lovely in December, but by the time January arrives, snow is still pretty, but not as fun.
I also wonder, how do those in uber cold weather climates, like the Nordic countries, manage to be some of the happiest people on the planet, when more than half their year feels like they are in Narnia ruled by the white witch?
The Practice of Lillördag
After doing a little research, I learned that Nordic countries, like Sweden, Norway and Finland, unofficially observe lillördag, aka “little Saturday”, which is the concept of using a day during the workweek (usually Wednesdays) to add a little mid-week fun into their lives.
Benefits of Lillördag
Observing lillördag can help you breakup the monotony of the workweek, especially during the cold months of the year, and give you something to look forward to even before the typical workweek ends. Mini, mid-week breaks can also help stave off the winter blues and prevent burnout for those who are overworked with job or household demands, overcommitted with family or social obligations and overstimulated by social media and digital interruptions.
How to Observe Lillördag
The practice of lillördag can essentially involve any activity that gives your mind and/or body a break. Not surprising, many in the Nordic countries will use Wednesdays as the day to meet up with friends for drinks or a small celebration. In the U.S., we may see this as a mid-week happy hour with colleagues, or having drinks/appetizers with friends at a local cafe or pub. But lillördag doesn’t have to involve alcohol or even socializing. This is your lillördag and you can observe this day however you choose.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
8 Ways to Practice the Nordic Concept of Lillördag this Winter
1. Make reservations for dinner – Any day that I don’t have to cook and clean is a good day. So if you’re like me and looking for a break from deciding on what’s for dinner, preparing the meal, and cleaning up afterwards, then cancel all three of those tasks and do the next best thing – make reservations! It can be your favorite restaurant or that new spot you’ve been wanting to try for months. Just pick a spot and enjoy!
2. Visit a new coffee shop – I love visiting new coffee shops when I travel. But it’s even more fun to find new coffee shops right where I live, so that I don’t have to travel too far to enjoy them! Something to note, some coffee shops may close on the earlier side, so it’s good to check operating hours before making your way there so you’re not disappointed.
3. Stroll through your local bookstore – Just like coffee shops, I love a good bookstore. Whether it’s a chain like Barnes & Noble or an independent bookseller, there’s something intriguing and simultaneously comforting about being among the books.
4. Attend a local wine tasting – Check out the local wine shops (ie. Total Wine, Binney’s, etc) for special events like wine, beer or liquor tastings. If that’s not available in your area, ask your local upscale restaurants about upcoming food/wine events they might be hosting. If all else fails, host your own mid-week wine tasting with friends ….but try not to get too crazy if you’re working the next day.
5. Take a class – Give your mind or body some much needed care by taking a one day or semester-long class at a local college, library, church, gym, etc. Classes can further new interests, like learning a language, improving your photography skills, advancing your yoga practice, and much more. I took a weekly, night class to learn French several years ago at the local college and had so much fun!
6. Have a MOD night – From pizza to tacos to chili, much of our comfort food can be highly customized. Poll your family members or friends, buy the necessary ingredients and throw a made-on-demand (MOD) evening, where you and everyone in your group can individualize their meal exactly to their liking. And if you’re feeling really adventurous, host the evening outdoors with twinkling lights, blankets, candles and mini heaters.
7. Be screen-free – Avoid scanning through your socials and going down the inevitable internet rabbit hole. Instead, read a book or listen to a new podcast, something that doesn’t have you staring at a screen.
8. Take a night walk – As many in the Nordic countries can attest, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. This means, unless it’s too dangerous (ie. Icy), wearing waterproof boots, a warm hat and gloves, plus a thick winter coat combined with many layers underneath, will keep you warm enough for at least a brisk walk around the block.
And do you know the best thing about lillördag? It happens every week! Well, well, look at that….tomorrow is Wednesday already. Time to lillördag!