Your Guide to Lillördag, the Swedish Word That Makes Every Day Feel Like the Weekend

Get a taste of the Swede life.

By Anne Campbell

Does your week ever feel like a hamster wheel? Things kick off with the grind of a Monday and you speed through the rest of the week on a blurry bullet train. Suddenly Saturday has come and gone, and all that’s left for a reset is Sunday (of course, that’s if there’s any time between meal prep and getting ready to do it all over again). The good news is that the Swedish concept of lillördag, or ‘Little Saturday’ can help you pump the proverbial brakes, take a breather, and find peace in the present.

Despite considering myself an eternal, glass-half-full sort of optimist, I can see the writing on the wall: The fast-approaching school year is going to be a total deluge. With the promise of early mornings spent packing the kids’ lunches as they bicker over breakfast and the agreed-upon responsibility of splitting dance class carpool, I’m already prepping myself for the chaos.

Between the uptick in scheduling and a whole lot less downtime, my Type A personality is looking for answers on how to be better equipped to handle the back-to-school beatdown. Included are the usual self-care suspects: get more sleep, exercise, keep up with my supplement regimen (hello magnesium and vitamin D!). But after reviewing my stress-suppressing list, I couldn’t help but think there was something missing from my mindset. Enter: lillördag.

Featured image by Michelle Nash.

Olivia Muniak dinner party_little saturday
Image by Michelle Nash

What is lillördag?

During a particularly restless night, I was laying in bed scrolling my phone (sometimes, you just have to give in). As I was scrolling, I happened upon the concept of lillördag. And what I first thought was an IKEA side table soon turned out to be far more useful (but if lillördag could be packaged, it sure would make an incredible housewarming gift).

With a little digging, I learned that lillördag is the Nordic tradition of taking a small break in the middle of the week. Instead of waiting a whole week for the weekend, Swedes take a midweek pause to celebrate life and remind themselves that the weekend is just two days away.

walden retreats_little saturday
Image by Michelle Nash

How is lillördag celebrated?

Instead of waiting for a Friday, many Swedes take to their local bars and restaurants to enjoy a drink with friends. For others, it’s cooking a meal at home and inviting friends and extended family to join. Some treat it more like a mini celebration, meeting friends out for an ice cream or coffee. While everyone celebrates a little differently, and some more extravagantly than others, lillördag can be incorporated into our own lives, whether we’re in Scandinavia or not.

Wondering how you can adopt this self-care concept for yourself? Below, you’ll find ideas for a much-deserved midweek pause. Let this self-compassion challenge inspire you to add a bit of lillördag to your week. And we want to know: How do you treat yourself when you need a little life retreat? Share in the comments below!

woman setting table for summer brunch_little saturday

Something Delicious

  1. Assemble a delicious grazing board. Anything (from breakfast to snacks to dessert) goes. Half the fun is mixing and matching a highly aesthetic and photogenic masterpiece. The other half? Devouring it.
  2. Whip up homemade ricotta. Once your cheese is ready to serve, consider using it for the most mouth-watering bruschetta you’ve ever tasted. (I’m clearly letting my recent excursion to Puglia inspire my own lillördag… ).
  3. Meet your friends for dessert and champagne. Switch things up and serve your sweets happy hour-style (because we can all use dessert before dinner every once in a while). As my husband’s grandmother often said, “Life is short. Eat dessert first!”
  4. Chill and grill. Gather friends and family and go to town. I’m partial to this grilled peach recipe and this grilled zucchini side, both courtesy of Camille—yum.
  5. Enjoy a cozy cup of chai. Sure, no one brews a cuppa quite like your local barista, but a little change in routine can make for a calm, blissful moment at home. Try this sweet and spicy recipe.
two women petting dog in Oaxaca_little Saturday
Image by Michelle Nash

Something Al Fresco

  1. Hop on a bike. When was the last time you gave the old ten-speed a whirl? Strap on your helmet and bike around your neighborhood, your city, or even out to dinner with friends.
  2. Stop and smell the roses (literally). Find your nearest botanical garden and plan a lunch break or after-work date with yourself.
  3. Enjoy your drink of choice on the front porch. Instead of retreating inside or to your back patio for an apéritif, consider sitting out front and taking in the view. Extra points for waving, smiling, and greeting your neighbors and passersby.
  4. Give the dog an outdoor bath. Because your family pet needs a little lillördag lovin’, too. Break out the garden hose and gather the fam for extra hands. Take it from me—your kids will love to help out.
  5. Take a hike. Pick a local hiking spot and go for it. Whether you go in the morning before work, as a midday lunch break, or at dusk, getting out in nature and experiencing joyful movement is 100 percent lillördag-approved. Don’t forget the water and SPF!
Jules Acree_little saturday
Image by Riley Reed

Something Luxurious

  1. Sleep in. Give your body and mind the rest they deserve. Sure, it’s the middle of the week and you likely have things to do and places to be, but giving yourself even an extra fifteen minutes can do wonders for your mood. Added bonus: It doesn’t cost a thing.
  2. Take a sound bath. Get the scoop on this wellness practice that’s gaining traction for good reason.
  3. Get a lymphatic massage. Whether you opt for one at a local spa or at home, lymphatic massages de-puff, detoxify, and effectively help you de-stress.
  4. Eat dinner by candlelight. Turn down the lights after your busy day comes to an end, and enjoy your evening meal in the warm glow of flickering candles.
  5. Indulge in new loungewear. Treat yourself to a new housedress, a pair of slippers, or new cozy-chic robe just because.
woman roller skating_little saturday

Something Active

  1. Say om. From calming yoga moves to stretches for flexibility to energizing poses and meditation (even breathwork!), our favorite yogi Kate Waitzkin can help you find calm.
  2. Dance like no one’s watching. In the comfort of your own home, break out your best moves with a heart-pumping dance cardio workout (Megan Roup-approved!).
  3. Take up water aerobics. Invest in some nose plugs and a swim cap, research your nearest water aerobics spot, and have a go. This low-impact exercise is sure to do a number on your midweek doldrums. 
  4. Get your ten thousand (or even twelve thousand!) steps. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: getting your steps in just might make you feel like a million bucks—physically, emotionally, and mentally.