This marks the first year of the Scandinavian Festival Membership Committee’s new series of membership pins featuring the four Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Norway. The 2013 pin will represent Sweden.

The Dalecarlian, or Dala horse, will be the prominent feature on the pin, a common symbol for the country of Sweden. The Dala horse, from the Swedish word Dalahäst, is a traditional carved and painted wooden statuette of a horse originating in the Swedish province of Dalarna. Traditions vary in giving credit to woodsmen and to soldiers for originating the craft.DSC_0357

One such story holds that soldiers in King Charles XII army were housed in private homes in the Mora region of Sweden. A soldier carved and painted a horse for one of the children in the home and in return for the toy, the soldier received some food. When other soldiers heard word of this bartering, they too made the little Dala horses in exchange for food. What started out as something to do during the long cold Swedish winter became an important trading item.

Dala Horses with their familiar bright decorations first appeared in the 1800’s when the kurbit, or flower patterned saddle, was regularly added to them. This design comes from the Biblical story in which Jonah sat outside the city of Nineveh and the Lord caused a Kurbit, or gourd vine, to grow up beside him to protect him from the desert sun.

The Dala horse of today is made of pine and is regularly painted red or orange with the kurbit motif.

The 2013 membership pin will also feature a small Swedish flag hanging from the bottom of the pin, and each subsequent pin will also feature a hanging flag that corresponds with the country.

By: Debbie Lemhouse