Mökille – an authentic way to enjoy the Finnish summer

It’s quite common that Finnish summer cottages situate on islands with a dense forest. Those white dots near the shore are summer cottages.

Mökille is the must-do for Finns in the spring and summer, it means going to the summer cottage in Finnish. Finns crave Mökille all year round. Why is that? There’s a joke about the real reason – so Finns can avoid people. We all know Finns love personal space and don’t like small talk. So once a while, they need to be left alone in the middle of nowhere.

Summer cottages are usually close to water.

I was invited to friends’ summer cottage in different summers during my study at Aalto. The first one was in Lahti, about one hour drive from Helsinki, I visited the first summer cottage within the first month I started my new life in Finland. We reached there by car. The view was stunning.

This summer I visited a summer cottage by boat. Most boats in Finland have a Finnish national flag waving in the wind.

So what do we do on the island? We drove the boat to see a few islands around.

It’s like a treasure hunt with a boat among islands.

There’s a car on a small island. Apparently, someone drove the car when the sea was frozen.  

We found a spot with a lot of chanterelles near shore. Collecting all of them.

Then we sat at the shore with knives at hands to clean the chanterelles with seawater. My friend cooked them for lunch.

This is the most delicious chanterelle soup I’ve ever tasted in my life.

My friends went fishing and smoked the fishes in a traditional way, then soak them in the salted water.

We sit outside to enjoy the summer weather, play games, and chat a lot.

Of course, there’s a sauna. It’s very sunny on our way to the summer cottage on a small island. Then the weather changed rapidly. Rain fell in the evening and cooled down the air, which made it better to enjoy the sauna. Come out from the hot sauna and go swimming in the sea. Super refreshing. No doubt, Finns go to sauna naked and swim naked. A great way to get connected to mother nature.

The sauna has a small place to heat up the water for showers. Of course, we collected the seawater. Since the drinking water has to be transported to the island. It’s a life of minimalism there. What about electricity? Some use solar panels, some with power generators. Outdoor lights for the terrace and the route to a dry toilet are LED equipped with solar panels.

We spent only one night there and had to head back to the city. Such a short visit.

A small harbor to park boats for people who own summer cottages on the islands.

I’m not Finn, I grew up on a small island, Taiwan, with a dense population. I totally get Finns’ need to avoid people from time to time. There’s no better way to recharge and spend quality time with your family and friends in the summer cottages. No screens, take a break from reality, just enjoy mother nature and the company of each other.

After I return to the city, I get the craving for Mökille just like Finns.

Hsiao-Pei Liao,
MA of Creative Sustainability 

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