This is Finland

A Trip to the Finnish Sauna

The Finnish sauna is one of the best ways of getting to know the Finnish culture.

Finland has about 3.3 million saunas for over 5million inhabitants. You may not be complete in Finland if you haven’t had the sauna experience. One of the first things a Finnish acquittance would ask a foreigner is ‘have you been to the sauna?’ How do you like the sauna?”

photo credit: chadmiller via photopin cc
photo credit: chadmiller via photopin cc

If you happen to visit Finland and for some reason, you were unable to experience the long standing tradition, before departing from the country, then your visit must be incomplete.

This is a part of the Finnish culture which isn’t likely to be done away with any time soon. Virtually all households have their own sauna where people take turns to visit. Men and women take turns in public saunas but families can be together with the children.

Finns look forward to going to sauna and they are never tired of the hot stem.What is more, it’s even a time gulping  a few bottles of beer.

Some use the sauna on a daily basis and others less often, yet the sauna tradition remains dear to the heart of Finns.

Having said that, I have been reluctant to visit the sauna even though I have been in Finland for almost three years. Not because I don’t need the hot stem to warm my body from the freezing cold (in winter) or the joy it brings to be with friends in a relaxed and calm atmosphere.

There was always a reason for me to miss the opportunity and I dreamed of a perfect time to have a first-hand hand experience of the world renowned tradition.

photo credit: Ari Helminen via photopin cc
photo credit: Ari Helminen via photopin cc

Cold from the swimming hall, I was encouraged by a friend to give it a try. We went to two different kinds so I could decide which was best. I found the wooden type extremely hot that I almost choked. The heat was hot enough to cook a meal and it should cook faster than a stove. I can’t imagine being at the sauna for more than few minutes. I guess I felt that way because I was a first timer and needed a repeat trip before I could get used to the heat.

 

As I stepped out of the room, I took a deep breath and inhaled fresh air.

I made it to the Finnish sauna!

I will be glad to make a return trip at the slightest opportunity and hopefully I will begin to enjoy sauna like Finns do.

Do you have any experience with an unfamiliar foreign culture?

Share your encounters in the comments.

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11 thoughts on “A Trip to the Finnish Sauna”

  1. First, I don’t swim/know how to.

    I’ve tried a sauna once, and didn’t really enjoy it. I guess the whole humid feeling is not something I want to artificially create. I would prefer walking in -10 degrees C with lovely slow falling snow in the evening. So calming and peaceful to me.

    Aside from saunas, I do tend to take hot -warm showers. Even in the summer. After a long bike ride, it’s a great feeling.

    I haven’t lived outside of Canada so I can’t claim any unusual experience….except being on a topless beach in Greece. Even that I understand it’s falling out of favour in Europe.

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  2. This is interesting information. I never knew that Finland has so many saunas.

    I do go to sauna and steam once in two days when I’m in the fitness center, and though there’re many health benefits, people with high blood pressure may have to be careful. Also, beer and sauna may not be a good combination.

    Thanks for the post! 🙂

    Like

  3. I visited a Moroccan Hamam (spa) awhile back while in that country and really enjoyed myself. It was a little weird being scrubbed, and I do mean scrubbed down by several women at the same time. But oh, I felt soooo clean afterwards!

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