Article: The Perfect Scandinavian Morning Routine
The Perfect Scandinavian Morning Routine
Dark mornings make it difficult to get out of bed, but a good morning routine can help. Learn how Scandinavians prepare for the day even in darkness, from soothing rituals to energizing breakfasts.
Hygge: It’s a Morning Thing, Too
Hygge, the Danish concept of coziness and conviviality, is meant to combat the gloominess of long winter nights—but can also be used in the morning.
In winter, those of us who need to get up early will do so before dawn. With a little bit of hygge, you can learn to love those dark mornings.
Begin by making sure your home is warm enough: set a timer so that your heating comes on at least half an hour before waking. Place a sheepskin rug or cozy slippers next to your bed so that your feet won’t touch the cold floor. Hang a robe nearby so you can put it on as soon as you leave your bed.
Light some candles and make tea or coffee in your favorite mug. Ideally, you should take time to savor the moment—perhaps with a newspaper or magazine—rather than jumping straight into your day. Take time to slowly wake up in bed, snuggled amongst your Danish-style organic linen bedding of course, sipping your coffee and enjoying a few moments of stillness.
For extra hygge credit, use a phone-blocking app such as Jomo to automatically block your messaging and social media apps for at least one hour after you wake up. That way, you won’t be tempted to check your phone first thing in the morning.
Gökotta: Waking With the Birds
If 2016 was the year of hygge, 2024 might just be the year of gökotta. A spate of articles last summer suggested that interest in this Swedish lifestyle concept is growing.
Gökotta involves waking up at dawn and taking time to appreciate nature and the sound of birdsong before starting your day. It can be done in a forest, a park, a garden or even from your window. Although gökotta is traditionally practiced in Sweden from Ascension Day (May 30) to midsummer, winter is an ideal time to adopt it as you won’t need to get up so early!
For those to whom a “miracle morning” filled with exercise, journaling, and goal setting may not appeal, gökotta is the antidote to all that. All you need to do is be still, breathe in the fresh air, listen to the birds, and appreciate the moment. It’s the perfect early-morning “nature therapy”—for more on the benefits of nature and greenery, check out our dedicated blog on the topic.
If you live in an urban area, you can still reap the benefits of gökotta—download a birdsong audio track and listen to it as you drink your morning coffee.
A Perfect Scandinavian Breakfast
Unlike the United States—where only a third of people eat breakfast every day—breakfast is a big part of the Scandinavian lifestyle. Just like every other meal, Scandi families usually eat breakfast together—sometimes with candles! There are as many types of Scandinavian breakfast as there are Scandinavians, ranging from the healthy to the hearty.
Porridge often features on the Scandi breakfast table—consider it an upgraded version of the standard American oatmeal, using oats that are rolled or steel-cut. And it doesn’t always contain oats: barley, rice, and rye can be used to add texture and nutrition. Don’t forget the toppings: think extra dairy (sour cream and butter), spices (cinnamon and cardamom), seeds (chia, flaxseed, and sunflower seeds) and fruits (apples, pears, and berries). The Norwegians even have potetgrøt: potato porridge sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon and served with ham!
Homemade bread often features at breakfast—Scandis will make a batch of buns at the weekend, freeze them and then heat them on weekday mornings to eat with cheese, cured meat, and soft-boiled eggs. Breakfast bread comes in many forms: rye bread, poppyseed buns, and wheat rolls topped with pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds.
Fika: How to Take a Break like a Swede
Once you’ve completed your morning routine and eaten breakfast, it’s time to jump into your day—but don’t forget to take a mid-morning break! In Sweden, coffee-and-cake breaks—called fika—are an essential part of life. They happen everywhere: in homes, in cafes, and in offices. Swedish workplaces usually have a morning and an afternoon fika so that everyone can recharge and socialize with colleagues. It’s mandatory to participate—no one gets extra credit for working through breaks!
Although you can fika with tea or a soft drink, the most common fika beverage is coffee. Swedish coffee tends to be strong and bitter—probably because it’s only ever consumed with sweet pastries! Popular fika treats include kanelbulle and kardemummabulle (cinnamon and cardamom buns), gräddbulle (cream buns), and chokladbiskvi (chocolate biscuits).
Better Sleep for Better Mornings
Of course, one of the most important factors to a great morning is a great night’s sleep. When days are short and nights are long, you may as well embrace the darkness and head to bed early—especially if you’re planning to rise with the birds for a spot of gökotta! Switch off all screens at least 90 minutes before bed and turn down the lights so that they don’t interfere with your body’s natural rhythms.
Scandinavians are fastidious about their choice of bedding: they sleep under a duvet rather than a comforter, as it’s more hygienic. They insist on all-natural materials, with organic linen duvet covers being a popular choice.
At The Modern Dane, we make organic linen bedding inspired by the Nordic lifestyle. Our sustainable, Scandinavian-style bedding is made from 100% European linen, which helps you to sleep as it’s hypoallergenic and breathable. Organic linen is thermoregulating, meaning that it’s perfect for both summer and winter. And our range of nature-inspired designs—such as Fugle—will give you that feeling of gökotta before you’ve even got out of bed.