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Ascension Day 

Kristi Himmelsfärds Dag

Ascension Day is celebrated, according to the ecclesiastical calendar, on Thursday of the sixth week after Easter.  Again, until very recently the religious aspect of the holiday was dominant.  It was customary for the young people of the parish to visit a neighboring parish.  Together with the young people there they might make an excursion and perhaps end the day with a dance.

Swedes are still wont to make excursions into the countryside on this day.  The Ascension is often celebrated by getting up early in the morning (around 3 or 4 a.m.) and meeting in a forest glen to hear the birds sing at sunrise.  These excursions are called gök-otta, literally "early cuckoo morning", as this is the time of year one can hear the cuckoo call.  If the sound comes from the east or the west, it means good tidings - "Cuckoo in the west is the very best" - but if from the north or south, it bodes ill.  The sun having risen - and weather permitting - the group may eat a picnic breakfast or drink coffee before returning home.  Singing and playing music are generally part of the festivities.


This is also traditionally the unofficial opening of the fishing season.  Folk-wisdom had it that this was the first day fish would bite after their long, deep winter "sleep".  Since 1938, the day has been designated Temperance Day and is celebrated by the various temperance organizations throughout the country.

Source: "Traditional Festivities in Sweden"; Author: Ingemar Liman; Published by: The Swedish Institute, ISBN 91-520-0113-X
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