What does “laavu” mean?
In the old times, travel and forest work often required staying overnight in the middle of the forest. When it started getting darker, or fatigue started wearing you down, you built a sloping shelter called “laavu”, a lean-to, from sticks and branches. A campfire or a “rakovalkea” gap fire was lit in front of the lean-to for keeping one warm and the predators at bay. It was a good place to fall asleep, surrounded by the forest, while watching the sparks float in the darkening sky.
You can also enjoy this atmosphere at modern-day lean-tos that are built along hiking trails. There are nearly one hundred such lean-tos in Rovaniemi. You can admire the river landscape from a lean-to right next to the city centre, or you can enjoy the forest in the wilderness far way from the hustle and bustle of the city. In fact, roasting sausages at a lean-to is a popular pastime activity among many citizens of Rovaniemi, regardless of age.