Swedish word of the day: kosläpp

Swedish word of the day: kosläpp
Image: nito103/Depositphotos
Today we'd like to introduce you to a word that describes one of the strangest Swedish springtime traditions.

Kosläpp literally means 'cow release', and it's used to describe the day when Swedish farmers, well, release their cows.

Specifically, it's when cows are let back out into the fields after a winter spent indoors, since Swedish animal welfare requires that cows are allowed to graze outside during the summer. 

The cows are excited to be out in the open after the long winter — a feeling anyone living in Sweden can surely relate to — and their first reaction to being let out of the barns is usually to run and jump around the pasture, roll around in the grass, and generally frolic in the fresh air.

The Swedish idiom 'glad/yster som en kalv på grönbete' (happy/frisky as a cow on pasture) sums up the cows' reaction.

These days it's become popular for Swedes to attend a kosläpp at local farms, often with their families, ever since dairy cooperative Arla started selling tickets to the kosläpp some years ago (you can find information about this year's events here). Farms will usually organize other activities too, such as games for children or talks about the animals and machinery, and light refreshments may be served.

All in all, attending a kosläpp can be a great way for youngsters to learn about animals and agriculture, and to get a taste of rural life if they're growing up in a bigger city.

Watch The Local's video below to see what it might look like:

Kosläpp is a newer name for the event, which is 'officially' known as betessläpp. Both words come from the phrase släppa ut (to release/let out), and bete means 'pasture' while ko means 'cow'. Like the English word 'cow', to which it is related, ko is used to refer to cattle whether male or female, but can also be used to describe female cows as well as females of some other species, for example älgko is used to refer to an adult female elk.

To say the phrase 'go to/attend the kosläpp', you use the preposition : jag vill gå på kosläppet (I want to go to the release of the cows). 

Milk is a major component of the Swedish diet, which could be one reason the events have proven so popular, even if these days non-dairy milks such as oat milk and almond milk are widely enjoyed in Sweden too. But this year, some farmers have said they've been forced to cancel their kosläpp after receiving threats from animal rights activists.


Snart är det dags för årets kosläpp

It's nearly time for this year's cow-release

Ska vi gå på kosläppet i morgon?

Shall we go to the release of the cows tomorrow?

Do you have a favourite Swedish word you would like to nominate for our word of the day series? Get in touch by email or if you are a Member of The Local, log in to comment below.


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