Sauna, which is actually a Finnish word, has a long tradition in the daily lives of Finnish people. People were using saunas in Finland 2000 years ago. Today there are over 1 million saunas in Finland, which translates to a ratio of one sauna for every five Finns! The sauna means a lot to the Finns. It is not only a place to get clean, but also a place to relax and socialize. Many important business deals have been made in the sauna. This might seem a bit unusual, but when compared to a formal meeting, the atmosphere is more relaxed in a sauna and contributes to a positive outcome.
Most people think of the Finnish sauna as a dry heat bath, but in fact, the Finns throw water on the hot stones that warm the sauna to create what is known as “loyly”–sudden burst of steam that creates a moist heat in the sauna. The steam raises the relative humidity in the sauna to approximately 40 percent. Without the moisture some people could find the heat irritating to the mucus membranes. In this, the Finnish sauna is not unlike its Russian counterpart, the “banya,” a hot vapor bath, which is a popular cleansing, relaxing, and beauty-enhancing treatment. Moscow alone features more than 50 of such large “banyas” with room for up to 70 people at a time.
There are three types of saunas used in Finland. A modern sauna with an electric heater is popular because of its convenience. The more common type in rural areas is still a sauna with a wood burning heater. Many people prefer this type over the electrically heated one. The third type is a smoke sauna. It has a huge wood burning heater, and smoke from the burning wood is let out into the sauna. Before the sauna is used, the smoke is let out through a small vent. While this type of sauna is becoming rare, it can still be found.
Interesting Sauna Facts
‧ In Finland, the Sauna plays an important part in socializing. Family gatherings and even business meetings take place in the Sauna. Participants are not allowed to leave the Sauna until a deal is made (just kidding).
‧ There are more than 1 Sauna for every 3 people in Finland (over two million). That’s more Saunas than cars.
‧ Finns behave in a Sauna as one would in a church. It is a very spiritual experience.
‧ Many Finns have 2 saunas, one for their residence and one for their summer cabin by a lake.
‧ A typical 20-minute Sauna session can extract 1 qt. of water from the body.
‧ Finns often use short bundles of birch branches, called “vihtas or vahtas”, to tap against their bodies to stimulate the skin. These same birch branches can be laid on top of the rocks for a few seconds while water is poured through them to create a very pleasant birch aroma in the room.
‧ Many Russians like a very hot Sauna (called “Bania”) where temperatures around 300F are not uncommon. They wear a wooled cap in the Sauna to protect their ears and mouth from the high heat.
‧ High temperature in the Sauna is comfortable because the humidity is very low.
‧ Saunas are even used in hot climates like Saudi Arabia because once you use a Sauna, the outside air feels cooler and you sweat less.
‧ In the winter time many Finns will roll in the snow or jump in an icy lake after Sauna. This creates a very unusual tingling sensation all over the body.
‧ Every year there are contests in Finland to see who can stay in the Sauna the longest (not healthy though – one can seriously de-hydrate).
‧ In earlier time the Finns would first build their Sauna; live in it as it also seconded as a guest house, then built the barn for the animals, and only then built the main residence.
‧ When present day Philadelphia was first settled in the 1600’s by Finns and Swedes they naked the area Sauna. The first Saunas were built where the City Hall and Naval Shipyards are now located – A plaque in the ground in the Naval yard indicates the location of the first Sauna.
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For more information : –http://www.sauna.com.my/