The Swedish Idea of “Little Saturday” Will Get You Through the Workweek
There’s a new hope that soon we’ll all be vaccinated and some aspects of life will begin to look more normal. But for many of us, today still feels like a carbon copy of yesterday and the week before and last month. Each day includes three Zoom calls, staring out the window, eating snacks for dinner, and then accidentally checking work emails from the couch at 9 p.m. No wonder we feel burnt out.
The Scandinavian and Nordic countries have a tradition that might just offer some relief: breaking up the workweek with a celebration on Wednesday nights. In Swedish it’s called lillördag, or “Little Saturday.” Leslie Anderson, the Director of Collections, Exhibition and Programs at the National Nordic Museum, spent time as a Fulbright Scholar in Denmark, where she and her colleagues celebrated lillördag each week. Sometimes they went out to dinner or for a drink, other times they spent that time relaxing at home.
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“There’s a very concentrated effort during the workday, and then also an understanding that one needs to attend to their mind and body and relax from the workday,” Anderson explains. “It speaks to a way of life where there’s a tremendous amount of balance.”
Having a small celebration on Wednesday to look forward to helps break up the monotony, and it helps reinforce the idea that we should be making a stark distinction between work hours and all other hours of the day. Now, more so than ever, we need lillördag to remind us that we’re more than work and/or caregiving robots.
So how exactly does one do this? The lillördag hashtag on Instagram offers a peek into how people celebrate the middle of the week: Platters of oysters, glasses of wine, whiskey, overflowing plates of pasta, pastries and prosecco, charcuterie spreads, and Nutella pancakes accompany lively conversation in cozy settings. Basically, celebrating lillördag doesn’t come with any preset rules. So long as you’ve disconnected from work and set aside a time for enjoyment and to release any stress from the previous three days of work, you’re doing it right.
And taking these kinds of breaks is even more important now. “There’s a universal experience now during the pandemic with the demarcation of the workday,” Anderson said. “Personal time is becoming increasingly blurred with our reliance on technology. So I think carving out that time to decompress is absolutely, now more than ever, something that you would want to incorporate into your routine.”
The idea of taking time on Wednesday to recenter promotes a healthy relationship between life and work, something we could all work on now and in the future. After all, like rebooting an electronic that’s gone haywire, sometimes a small break is just what we need.