About Finnish Sauna
Sauna is a huge part of Finnish culture and an integral part of everyday life in Finland. For centuries, the Finns have relaxed, bathed, conversed, socialized, cooked and healed in sauna. The most common types of Finnish saunas are wood-heated and electric. Not so common and with a softer smokey feel is the smoke sauna.
Why sauna? The sauna experience is about physical and spiritual cleansing. Saunatime means time to relax and to relieve tension and stress. Sharing a small room, that is heated to 70 – 90 C°, with others, all heirs and graces are removed. In sauna all people are equal and people talk freely and openly about real issues. It is a fact that in Finland many major business decisions are made in the sauna and in older days also governmental policies were made in the sauna.
Sauna etiquette is fairly simple. It is considered polite and hygienic to shower both before entering and leaving the sauna. A towel is placed on the bench to sit on, as the bench may be hot and for hygienic reasons. You can stay in sauna as long as you feel comfortable and can return as often as you wish. To enhance the sauna experience it is customary to flagellate yourself and others gently with a bunch of birch branches (“vasta”). This is not meant to be kinky, but is meant to stimulate the blood circulation, absorb nutrients and add a nice fresh aroma. Whilst taking a breather from the sauna to cool off from time to time, one can go for a swim in the lake, or simply take a shower and maybe take a cool beer or other forms of refreshment. In winter one can still go for a “dip” in the lake through a hole in the ice (“avanto”), or one can roll in the snow or simply sit outside in sub-zero winter temperature instead. “Avanto” is good for blood circulation, but most people do it purely for the rush.