Monday, March 10, 2008

De Röda Små Stugor

The Little Red Cottages.

If you haven’t noticed, Sweden does the simple things really, really well. Those little things that help one appreciate life - the special parts to the day-to-day of living – Swedes do really, really well. Add to the list that Sweden is known as “the land of the little red cottage.”

And all it takes is a quick journey to the countryside to agree with this description of Sweden.

Starting in the spring and always throughout the summer, many (if not most) Swedes will spend time at a “little red cottage.” Always out in the countryside, usually near a lake, surrounded by family and friends, appreciating the bounty of summer and all it brings. De Röda Små Stugor and a Swedish Midsummer celebration go hand-in-hand. Why then, you ask, am I writing about this when spring hasn’t even arrived?

The problem I have is that my summer is spent either in the U.S. or working really hard at my job preparing for the arrival of new students to the university. My first “röd små stuga” experience was a couple of weeks ago. Yes, in the middle of winter. Not the quintessential little red cottage experience, but a good look into another Swedish national pastime and certainly worthy of a Linköpinglivin’ entry nonetheless.

It was time for a group of friends and I to make an overnight getaway from Linköping, so the little red cottage in the countryside was the destination of choice (but since this one slept ten people comfortably, most people agreed this was more of a “big red cottage”). Usually these summer homes are closed down some time in September and not opened up again until Easter, when the coming of spring looks promising after the long winter. Most Swedes either have or know someone who has one of these countryside cottages.

So what happens at these little red cottages during the summer? Best I can tell, a whole lotta “not too much.”

Go for a walk. Have some fika. Go for a swim. Then maybe some fika. Read a book. It’s time for fika. Play some games. Lo and behold, it’s fika time. It’s 11:00pm. The sun is starting to set. Another summer day at a little red cottage has come and gone. This is Sweden at it’s finest. This is Sweden doing the little things (that are actually the most important things in life) really, really well.

From what I remember about the U.S., we could sure use some of these “röda små stugor.”

A huge thanks to Sara and Andreas Vinsander – perhaps we can squeeze in a little red cottage weekend this summer?

Pictures above:

1. & 2. The land of the little red cottage.

3. Friends around the table – the best part of any weekend getaway or summer lazy day at the cottage.

4. A classic fika.

5. My addition to our weekend was the beloved American game, Jenga. I think it’s JUST about to catch on in Sweden…


Ang said...

Better make sure that you visit the little red cottage in the summer, not in April. If Todd couldn’t handle Pullman, not so sure "that brother” could handle a weekend at the cottage. :-)

Jenga is a favorite of the kids until Hunter decides the game is over and knocks it down just to see Lexi’s expression!

Judith said...

Our Små stugan was not red but yellow. But it was small and nice (and cold) and i enjoyed most of the time we spend there.
oh how i miss fika....
thats too bad.

hope you´ll have lot of fun spending time with your brother, i thought it was amazing to have some of my sibblings around in linköping. And Jessi says hello to you!

Todd said...

Ang - It wasn't that I couldn't handle Pullman...Pullman couldn't handle ME! Why do you think that telephone pole was thrown at your car?

As long as we can take the subway to the little red cottages, I'm in.

Looking forward to it.

Crystal said...

So Sean... why are they known as little *red* cottages, is there a cultural reason why they are painted red, like how the golden gate is painted with it's special red-orange paint? Just wondering...maybe there was an excess of red paint? :)

Anna H said...

Falu Rödfärg which is the name of the paint, is made to imitate red bricks, that was seen as more luxury.

Since it is cheap, easy to use and also protects the wood it has stayed very popular.

Read more on Wikipedia:

(I'm one of the "other swedes", but my father is from Linköping, and my brother lives there)

Cecilia said...

Yes, the "Falu rödfärg" used to be red waste product from the copper mines in Falun. The paint in very watery and slightly chalky so if you rub against the wall your clothes would get red dust on them. My family lives in an old Swedish red cottage (not a summer house) and I remember how we used to get barrels of this red paint and it would drip everywhere when painting. It's now part of our country's tradition, so even new houses are often painted red, but then using ordinary red paint. However, many people who own old cottages still source the traditional Falu rödfärg as it gives a unique, matte red that is different from ordinary red paint.

Like your blog by the way. I grew up close to Motala, 60 kilometres from Linköping, but I now live in Galway, Ireland since 4 yrs back.
Will probably move back to Sweden soon with my Irish fiance, who is also trying to learn swedish I might add :)