"Myths and traditions associated with saunas" Finland Local Custom Tip by annase

Finland Local Customs: 156 reviews and 110 photos

  Sauna
by annase
 
 

Now here is a word that originates from Finnish and is used all over the world! There aren?t very many, so we are extremely proud of these. Saunas were historically the most sacred places after the church, and all houses that could afford to build a sauna had one. Nowadays about third of Finns have one at home. According to an old tradition, families often bath together in their home saunas. In public saunas, men and women go to the sauna separately, since in Finland swimsuits are banned from the saunas. You can take a towel though! ;-)

Modern day Finnnish saunas are for relaxation. For this reason, the lighting in a sauna is shady, and most people prefer to sit in the sauna in silence. They are also used for cleansing your body of impurities and toxins. Some people use a bundle of birch twigs, to gently slap their skin and create further stimulation of the pores and cells. The temperatures usually reach between 80C and 110C and the steam vapour is created by splashing water on the heated rocks. The humidity is low, allowing saunas to be enjoyed for longer periods of time.

The first saunas were built in the 5th or 8th century. They were pits dug into a hill and were primarily used as dwellings in winter. As tools and techniques advanced, saunas were built above ground.

In the old times, there were many beliefs and charms connected to sauna. Fire was seen as a gift from heaven, and the hearth and the sauna oven were its altars. It often functioned as a place where bodies of the dead were washed and prepared for burial. Curing diseases and casting love spells could also happen in the sauna. Women also used to give birth in the sauna because it was a warm and sterile environment. Children were still occasionally born in saunas in the early 20th century. Little gnomes were also believed to live in the sauna. It was customary to warm up the sauna for them every now and then in order to keep them happy.

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  • Written Jul 21, 2007
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Comments (1)

  • King_Golo's Profile Photo
    Sep 26, 2015 at 10:11 AM

    I didn't know about the gnomes in the sauna. I hope they aren't dangerous?!

    • annase's Profile Photo
      Sep 27, 2015 at 2:19 PM

      Not at all, they were thought to be friendly. :)

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