Traveler's Test

The Swedish concept of gökotta – listen to the morning birdsong

The Swedish concept of gökotta – listen to the morning birdsong

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Incorporating gökotta into your life helps you once again see why the Swedes are among the happiest people in the world. I mean, start your morning by practicing gökotta and then try not to be happy for the rest of the day – it’s impossible.

So what does it mean?

Gökotta is an untranslatable Swedish word, which essentially means “to rise at dawn in order to go out and listen to the birds sing”.

What is the origin of the tradition?

In some parts of Sweden, there is a tradition of going out into the wild on Ascension Day (40 days after Easter) to listen to the birds, and in particular the cuckoo, sing their songs for the first time in spring. Even churches in many parts of the country agree to hold their Ascension morning service in the open so believers can hear the cuckoo sing.

Why should you do it?

It has long been known that having a positive and energetic morning is the most important step toward crafting a peaceful and productive day, though it might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you hear that obnoxious alarm clock in the morning.

The other aspect of the concept – immersing yourself in nature – is yet another booster for mental and physical wellbeing.

And if that’s not enough, think of it as a way to get closer to Swedish culture without having to actually go to Sweden.

Want an extra challenge?

Have you already incorporated gökotta into your routine? We still have one more challenge for you: go camping near the city on a work day and start the following morning by using the birdsong as your alarm clock (here’s ho we did it last summer). When you arrive at work, all your colleagues will be wondering where your good mood has come from.

More sunrise ideas

You’ve already made it out of bed, realized how different life is under the soft light of sunrise and want some more creative suggestions for how to celebrate the dawning of the day. Take some inspiration from our list of sunrise challenges and give yourself an energizing start to the day.

Discover more untranslatable words: like aylyak in Bulgaria or dolce far niente in Italy.