The Dala horse is probably one of Sweden’s best recognised souvenirs. The red wooden horses come from the province of Dalarna, northwest of Stockholm.
The Dala horse came originally from the village of Nusnäs near Mora (4 hours by train from Stockholm). Originally a by-product of the furniture industry in the area, it started to be sold as a product in 1623. Back then, horses were not painted and sold with a wooden surface; since the 19th century, they were painted in white or red, with red being more famous.
The common image of Dala horses being red may also be related to the Swedish image of Falu red, a shade of red that comes from the copper mines of Falun and used to paint many houses in Sweden.
The Dala horse has now become a recognisable symbol of Sweden around the world. Not only in Dalarna are there many publicly displayed Dala horses, but they are also in virtually all souvenir shops in Sweden, and even placed in many US locales where there are many people with Swedish heritage.