With Victory Day and Midsummer's Day fast approaching, and in honor of the sauna year, the State Forest Management Center (RMK) reminds everyone that they have the right to bring home a birch whisk from a state forest.
The best time to make a sauna whisk is around Midsummer's Day. You can also start a week before the holidays. The week following Midsummer's Day is another suitable time for going into the woods to collect birch whisks and get in tune with nature.
"We want to make sure that as many people as possible are aware that they are allowed to bring a birch whisk home from a state forest," Mikk Marran, the head of the State Management Center (RMK) said. "Prior to Victory Day and Midsummer's Day, city inhabitants go traveling across Estonia more, and making sauna whisks is a great excuse to get out in nature with family or friends."
Marran hopes that sauna-loving Estonians will seize this opportunity in the same way that it has become customary for many families to bring a Christmas tree home from a state forest during the holiday season.
"Midsummer's Eve coincides with Victory Day, and on this day of celebration, people visit the sauna at every opportunity," Marran said. "I am thrilled that the EDF Commander Gen. Martin Herem took the initiative to disseminate the information regarding the potential uses of state forests. We want to wish everyone a joyful sauna session on Victory Day!"
This upcoming weekend, visitors will be able to refresh their knowledge regarding the correct way to make whisks and create your own whisks in the workshops at one of the 10 State Forest Management Center visitor centers located throughout Estonia. Further information about the events is available on the RMK's website.
The most simple way to identify state forest areas is to use the map application on the RMK's website or the mobile app. You can find young birch trees fit for making sauna whisks in nearly every forest.
The state forests in which you can go and search for branches for your sauna whisk are marked in dark green on the State Forest Management Center map. Protected areas are marked in brown. Be very careful not to disturb or damage the nature there while collecting branches. In private forests, we recommend that you only take branches for sauna whisks if you have an agreement with the owner. Electrical lines are marked in blue on the map. You can collect branches for your sauna whisk from beneath them.
Video tutorial and a reminder for whisk makers:
- Cut the branches suitable for a sauna whisk from young trees; trees that are approximately two to six meters tall.
- Do not take branches from old birch trees, because they have thick and hard branches. The so-called "mourning birch" branches that are hanging are not suitable, because they are too soft and flexible.
- Leave the tree to grow because you only need a certain amount of suitable branches for the whisk and they are usually collected from multiple suitable trees.
- Make sure that at least half (or, at minimum, a third) of a tree's height is left standing, as this provides the tree with opportunities for growth if people should decide to continue nurturing it.
- Do not cut off the treetop! Even if the top seems to have the best branches, find a new tree.
- Use your pruning shears in a way that does not damage the trunk of the tree you have left to grow. Remove the suitable branch you have previously selected.
If possible, collect branches from the edge of ditches, beneath electrical lines or from the edges of a forest path. As a general rule, these locations with their good lighting conditions have the best trees, i.e. smooth and rich in leaves, for crafting a sauna whisk.
- The length of a branch for a whisk should be approximately half a meter, which is about the length of an arm from elbow to the fingertips.
- In the forest, you can also cut longer branches, which can be trimmed later when you start creating the sauna whisk.
- The branch should be wide and multi-branched with numerous leaves.
RMK made a video tutorial, which could be seen below (in Estonian).
Editor: Kristina Kersa