Legend of the Dala Horse

The traditional symbol of Sweden is the Dalahast, or Dala Horse. Since Viking times, the horse was considered a treasured animal.

A horse represented a creature of great value, a tower of strength in helping the family. It was a faithful friend who drew loads in the forest during winter, worked in the fields and meadows in spring and summer and carried equipment up to the delightful summer pastures and adjoining chalets of Scandinavia. Horses also provided transportation between villages and parishes and trips to the mill and to the market.

There was so much pleasure with having a horse. Children really enjoyed their company. They could ride bareback, and many children were able to sit on its broad strong back at the same time. Carved wooden horses were plain and made as children’s toys.

The Dala horse symbol originated during the 18th century in the Dalarna region of Sweden. Legend is that a hungry soldier came to Dalarna and he carved a horse from a piece of a tree. Then he took red clay, and mixed it with water to paint the horse. When it was finished, he gave it to a young boy who had been watching him. The child was so excited with the gift that he took the soldier and the wooden horse home to show his mother. In return for the kindness shown to her son, the mother gave the soldier a bowl of soup.

In the 17th century, the hand carved Dala horses were also sometimes used as payment for board and lodging. During the long winter months or in times of poor crops, it was necessary to augment income with revenues from other sources. The men would fill a wagon with brightly colored horses and other homemade articles. They would venture out to sell or barter for grain. To show their appreciation for overnight accommodations at farmhouses along the way, they would offer painted horses for the children, and they became treasured toys.

These wooden horses came originally from the Mora villages of Vattnas, Rise, Bergkalas and Nusnas. Tinkers traveled about the country to sell products of the cottage industry. Their wares were baskets, grinding stones and wooden casks. Often they took Dala horses to add to their collection of goods.

During the 19th century, it became the custom to paint the wooden horses with richly colored flower patterns like the Dala painting that decorated furniture and interior walls. The Dala horses appeared with the traditional Swedish folk art red color with kurbits (a big plant, with gourds and leaves) and flowers covering the saddle. The designs come from the Biblical story of Jonah. He sat outside Ninevah, and the Lord caused a kurbit of gourd vine to grow, protecting him from the desert sun.

In current times, nine people are involved in the making of one horse from the Nusnas factory. Dala horses are made in many sizes, from less than half an inch up to 60 inches (or five feet), and they are available in a variety of different colors and patterns.

Here at The Wooden Spoon we have all colors, shapes and sizes of Dala Horses! Check out our wooden horses sitting or standing, painted on ceramic tile, serving dishes, regular and travel mugs, wine glasses, snapps glasses, wooden spreaders, decals or magnets, or they can be found in wood or silver as necklaces or earrings. We have books on Dala horses, Dala horse key rings, cookie cutters, stencils, stamps, labels, Christmas cards, wooden ornaments, lapel pins, tablecloths, dish cloths, napkins, and paper pull-outs! We even have Dala socks!                  Visit and see for yourself.

Swedish people believe that if you don't like how things are going in life, change the direction of your Dala horse(s). And if you need to ward off evil, place your Dala horse with its hind legs towards the door, ready to kick the bad spirits away!

Gwen Welk Workman, February 2, 2002

The Wooden Spoon

Gwen's Salad Recipes
Watkins Flavoring Nybro Crystal Bowls


Cook one package ring macaroni. Rinse and drain well.

In saucepan put the juice of one large can of pineapple, and
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon flour
2 whole eggs

Mix well. Bring to a boil and cook until thick.

1 teaspoon Watkins vanilla or almond flavoring

Pour this over the cooked macaroni rings.

Refrigerate overnight.

To this mixture, add:

Drained pineapple
1 can drained Mandarin oranges
12 maraschino cherries, cut in half

½ pint Cool Whip

Blend well. Put in your favorite Scandinavian crystal bowl.

Garnish with Cool Whip and fruit.


Gwen Welk Workman, April 1, 2017

The Wooden Spoon

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Gwen's Dessert Recipes
Daim Candy Dala Horse Tray


Prepare and bake one chocolate cake mix according to directions.

After cake is removed from oven, take a fork and pierce the entire surface.

Pour one jar of Smucker' s caramel ice cream topping over the cake.


Frost with Cool Whip. Sprinkle with crushed Daim candy.

Refrigerate. Serve cold in a Dala Horse Tray.


Gjetost Cake Tray



Mix ¼ cup melted butter with
1 cup sugar

3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons half and half

Mix well.

1 ½ cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

Blend well. Pour into 10 inch springform pan you have sprayed with cooking oil.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

In frying pan, melt 1/3 cup butter.

½ cup slivered, blanched almonds

Stir until golden.

½ cup sugar
½ cup whipping cream.

Bring to a vigorous boil, stirring constantly.

Boil for 2-3 minutes until the mixture turns carmel colored and thickens.

4 ounces shredded Gjetost

Pour hot topping over cake and place under broiler until topping is bubbly and lightly browned.

Cool on baking rack. Serve on a Carl Larsson Cake Tray.


Gwen's Homemade Ginger Snaps Gingerbread Man Tray



1 ½ cups butter Crisco
2 cups white sugar

2 eggs
¼ cup molasses
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
¾ teaspoon ginger
2 teaspoons soda
4 cups flour

Mix well.

Take a tablespoon of dough, roll into a ball, dip in white sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat.

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. Serve in our Gingerbread dish at your next party.


Gwen's Homemade Sugar Cookies Swedish Flag Napkins



2 cups butter Crisco
2 cups white sugar

Add: 2 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white vanilla
1 teaspoon almond flavoring
1 teaspoons soda
1 teaspoons cream tarter
4 cups flour

Mix well.

Take a tablespoon of dough, roll into a ball, dip in white sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat.

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

Serve cookies plain or frosted.


To make Gwen's Signature Lemon-Iced cookies:

2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon Crisco oil
2 drops yellow food coloring
Real lemon juice to the consistency you want

Frost cookies. Serve with Swedish Napkins.


Anna's Ginger Thins Black Rosemaling Mug



Blend one box Anna ginger thins to make crumbs.

¼ cup melted butter

Press into an 8" or 10" springform pan.

In large mixer bowl blend (Blend as you add each ingredient):
2 eight ounce packages cream cheese
1 pint cultured sour cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
¾ cups sugar
1 can pumpkin
4 eggs
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon cloves
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons flour

Mix on high speed for 2 minutes.

Pour into large springform pan.

Bake at 350 degees for 20 minutes.

Then bake at 300 degrees for 40 minutes.

Turn off oven and leave cheesecake in oven for one hour.


Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and your favorite hot beverage in a Rosemaling mug.


Gwen Welk Workman, April 1, 2017

The Wooden Spoon

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Gwen's Appetizer Recipes
Vestlands Lefse #237.14



Flake 3-5 ounces smoked salmon.

Mix well with eight ounces cream cheese.

Add 3-4 tablespoons of lemon juice

2 tablespoons chives or green onion tops

Mix well.

Prepare Vestland's Lefse according to direction.

Spread mixture on sheets of Lefse.

Roll in log shape. Cut in bite sized pieces.

Spear an olive or pickle on a toothpick, add Lefse roll up.



Gwen Welk Workman, April 1, 2017

The Wooden Spoon

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