The long history of the Finnish sauna

Since stone age, there were some kinds of saunas. Later in the 12th Century St. Andreas wrote the oldest description about the sauna. He says: “I saw wooden saunas, heated very hot. Then, people undressed, totally nude. People pick up young twigs and whipped themselves with them. They beat themselves almost to death, so they hardly get out of the sauna. After, they spill themselves iced cold water and revive again. They repeat process very often without anybody forcing them. Because, their aim is to wash, not to torture themselves.”

Turkish bath

Steam bath known as Turkish steam bath comes from Turkey. Earlier, in Roman Empire, steam sauna was very popular, too. Finnish sauna and Turkish steam bath are different but the aim is the same – to sweat and to relax body and mind.

Different types of the sauna

Different types of sauna are popular in many cultures more than thousand years. Word sauna – wooden room comes from Finnish language. The tradition of sauna comes from Finland, traditional sauna is dry and with high temperature. Throwing some water on the heated rocks controls humidity in the sauna. Steam stimulates sweating. Traditional smoke sauna is quite rare today and it has to be heated up for many hours by burning a lot of wood to heat the massive rocks. Contemporary needs moved saunas to our homes. Today, most of the saunas use electricity.

From birth to death

Until 20th-century Finnish women gave birth in the saunas, also deceased were washed in saunas. Today, women and man usually go into the sauna separately, but in the past, the whole village would go in the sauna at the same time. Like a big family where everybody knows each other. When Finns moved to cities, a tradition continued. During the WW2 Helsinki had 1050 public saunas. They were meeting points for the rich and poor. Later, saunas were built as part of a block of flats as a communal sauna. Every family would have its weekly sauna hour. Today, most of the Finns have private saunas inside their homes.

Sauna industry and new sorts of saunas

Sauna industry development brings new sorts of the sauna, the most popular is an infrared sauna, the American type of sauna. Since infrared sauna is very simple to use, in a short time it became very popular on the market. Infrared technology is warming the body from the inside, with the same beneficial results as a traditional sauna and with advantages as ease of use and maintenance, low inside temperature, with absence of humidity and the steam. 

Do you know there are seven different types of the saunas? Read more!