Having lived for more than 6 years in the land of a thousand lakes, I came to cherish and appreciate the Sauna ritual, especially during the winter months. With temperatures raging from 0 to -40 degrees Celcius, sauna is a necessary part in the Finnish lifestyle – adopted by many expatriates as well.
A traditional Finnish sauna – at least from my point of view – is a place to relax, envelop silence and bond with family and friends. When I first came here I found it very weird that the total nakedness, especially in mixed (men/women) saunas is not only not frowned upon, but on the contrary, it is highly recommended. Unlike in many other cultures (including mine), where nakedness is not accepted, in the Finnish culture, being naked in the sauna is completely ok, as it helps you embrace your body and be one with nature. The way that I see it, all people are born naked, so there is no reason to feel embarrassed about one’s body, no matter how imperfect it might be.
Traditional Finnish saunas are usually wooden. Instead of using electricity (like the modern saunas), the traditional ones burn wood. They usually have a chimney, either in the middle or the corner of the room, depending on where the stove is built. Some saunas do not have a chimney at all. These are called smoke saunas.
The temperature in a sauna can rage from 50 to 110 degrees Celsius. It thus makes sense that you take all of your clothes and prepare yourself for some serious sweating. My recommendation: Try ice swimming! The feeling of a hot sauna after a quick and shocking skinny-dipping in the frozen Baltic sea is amazing!
Finnish designers have taken the concept of sauna to the next level. Oak wood, fresh designs, curves combined with earthly colors make the sauna experience one of a kind!
Modern designs focus on comfort, spaciousness and a pinch of luxury. The stove is usually placed in the center of the room, while the seating space is built around it. The idea behind is that of “Hestia” – the ancient Greek god of hearth and family. Hestia’s representation is a fire or a stove placed in the middle of the room, so that the whole family or friends can sit around it, get warm, discuss and bond. In case the stove is placed in one of the corners, the idea remains the same: seating places are built around it, amphitheatrically.
If you are around Helsinki and want to know more about saunas, or check out the latest designs for indoors and outdoors wooden or electric saunas, you can visit Habitare. The expo will take place in Messukeskus between 9.9 – 13.9.2015 with a section dedicated only to bathroom and sauna concepts.
So go ahead, visit a sauna today, and – why not – build one for yourself!