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Posted 17-10-2019 by Sally Guillaume
The Norwegian Hytte
The hytte is to the Norwegians what the Dacha is to the Russians - a small house out in the countryside - and the role of this typical little wooden house in the Norwegian psyche is as important as its Russian counterpart.
The traditional hytte is usually built in wood - of which Norway has plenty - and it is often painted, most frequently in red. It is located out in the countryside or in the forest, and it offers its residents a rather spartan comfort. Running water and electricity are - most of the time - not part of the available amenities, and the equipment you will find in these cute little houses is quite rustic. Most of the time, it only consists of a table, a few chairs, a basic bed and - not to forget! - a wooden stove to keep the interior warm enough when the snow and the temperatures are falling outside.
There are around 400 000 hytter in Norway for a little over 5 million inhabitants. That tells you how big a role these little cottage houses play in the daily life of the people of Norway! Thousands more are being built every year throughout the country. When travelling in Norway, you see them everywhere, up in the mountains, down by the ocean, or built amidst postcard like sceneries, by a beautiful lake or in the middle of the woods.
Alone in the wilderness
The vast majority of Norway's territory consists of empty, almost untouched landscapes, and the size of the country (more than 2000 kilometres from south to north) allows its inhabitants to retreat in places where no one else lives. As it happens, Norwegians tend to cherish these solitary escapades. They love being by themselves, or with their family or friends, in a place where no other sign of civilisation is to be found.
On the weekends, or when they are holidaying, the people of Norway are ready to drive for hours when they leave their apartment in the cities, and even walk on for a few more hours across rivers and forests when they reached the end of the road, to reach their beloved hytte. If you ask a Norwegian whether (s)he prefers to fly to the other side of the planet or go spend a few days or weeks in their hytte for the next holiday, chances are they will choose the second option!
Because it is overwhelmingly present in Scandinavia (less than 20 million people live in Norway, Sweden and Finland, an area of Europe larger than France and Spain put together!), nature has always played a preponderant role in this part of the globe. Reading just a bit of the vast and fascinating Scandinavian mythology will help you understand how crucial nature is in everyday life.
Thus, and like their cousins from Sweden or Finland, the Norwegians are particularly keen skiers, hikers, kayakers and cyclists. They love to fish and hunt, and they love to camp out in the wilderness. Owning a hytte is therefore an easy way to be in the middle of this beloved, wild and untouched environment - as well as the best way to forget the stressing city life and all the worries that come with it.
From hytte to cottage house
Originally a very basic house with only minimal amenities, the modern hytte is now becoming a much more comfortable place, and some of them are actually nicer and better fitted than their owner's home! They tend to get bigger in size too, and - like many other things in Norway - building and maintaining a large hytte in the middle of the woods can prove quite expensive.
However, the genuine, traditional hytte still remains based on the same concept: a basic place to stay, with everything you need to survive in these northern latitudes but nothing superfluous, a rustic shelter offering spartan comfort and requiring low consumption. Most of all though, the hytte is a small but beloved piece of real estate that you inherit from your parents and take care of and look after to pass it on to your children.
If you book our brand new Norway cross-country skiing week, you will get to spend a night in one of these hytter as the cherry on the cake of this wonderful holiday! A truly authentic Norwegian experience, not to be missed!
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