Mökkihöperyys: Finnish Cottage Life
It’s July and this means cottage life in Finland!
The July month is traditionally the summer holiday month in Finland. Some Finns travel abroad when the vast majority travel to the countryside to their summer cottages. According to statistics, there are over half a million official summer cottages in Finland. This means that around one in ten Finn has their own cottage. This number is even bigger if you include the more luxurious homes.
The cottage life is often described by one Finnish word mökkihöperyys. Out there, you are not a teacher, a doctor, or a police officer. The cottage life changes you to something very different from what you are during the rest of the year. The life in cottages is simple, the concept of time does not exist and all of your worries are washed away. Mökkihöperyys is a kind of serenity. The norms of society slowly fade away and the shackles are lifted. You are one with nature, without a care in the world. Maybe you are finally the true you.
Saunas and Lakes
When it comes to building a summer cottage, Finns often build the sauna first and then the rest thereafter. Sauna is an essential part of cottage life. You bath once or twice a day and go skinny-dipping in the lake next to you. Most of the summer cottages do not have an indoor shower. You wash in the sauna and to be honest it really does not matter if your hygiene is not on top of the game, you are joining strangers but family and friends. You also probably packed too many clothes with you, because in the end, you will be wearing the same pair of shorts and one or two t-shirts for the whole holiday. Nobody will notice or even care.
Nature Takes Over
After a while, you stop caring about the norms of the society. You become this creature of nature, who walks barefoot and spend a good part of the day naked. Your feet touch the ground beneath you. You feel the berries and mushrooms in your hands when you are out searching for food and the wood when you are warming up the sauna. You take long walks in the forest and row out to these uninhabited islands to bath in the sun or explore them. For those who live in cities, this is the time of the year when you truly feel a therapeutic connection to nature.
When it is finally time to pack your stuff and leave the city for your summer place, you have already decided what is the one thing you want to achieve there. This is the yearly project you have been talking to your family and friends’ through the long winter. It can be painting the sauna, building a new shed or fixing the leak in the roof. The most common project is building a new jetty. I am not lying when I am saying that during my short life I have built three of these. It is an easy project and something you can show of to your friends when they visit your cottage. The longer the better is the rule to follow.
It is always hard to leave your summer cottage. After a month of careless lifestyle, it is difficult to adjust to the ordinary life. It does not get better when the days get shorter and colder. The fact that you have to wear shoes makes everything even harder. However, after a while, you will adjust to the realities of society. You become a part of the machine again and the freedom mökkihöperyys slowly provides fades away. Some people claim you are back to normal. Personally, I am not so sure.
|Rowing Last Summer|
Author Information: Jon Järviniemi is an Intern at the Embassy of Finland in Canberra.