We have seen saunas and even been in them, but can you imagine a place where there are saunas everywhere, and we mean everywhere, inside company offices, in city apartments, sports centres, on residential streets, and in embassies? So much so that even the president has his own sauna? We are talking about Finland, where there are more than a whopping 2 million saunas, that's much more than any other place in the world. In fact, Finland also has sauna museums and academies.
In India, whenever we buy a house many of us carry out rituals for purifying and cleansing the sanctity of the house. In Finland, they start with a sauna and it has become a part of their everyday lives. A sauna is considered to be a sacred place where everyone unites as one discusses important matters, drink and eat. Even the diplomats discuss matters of their country's wellbeing in saunas. Saunas are so deeply entwined with Finnish culture, people have even given birth inside saunas (non-heated, of course).
Did you know that #Tampere is known as The Sauna Capital of the World, with over 30 public saunas in the region for anyone to relax in, throughout the year: https://t.co/gx9DRIWJYU Learn more about Finland's favourite city: https://t.co/P6FDMEm2RU pic.twitter.com/YnyF7fNa8D— Discovering Finland (@DiscoverFinland) April 20, 2020
There are different types of saunas in Finland, each with its own character. Some saunas are heated by wood burned in a stove with a chimney. The original saunas, called smoke-saunas, did not have a chimney. You would enter after the smoke had petered off, the wood had burned down and its embers had heated the space. If you want to increase the humidity, throw water on a basket of hot stones kept near the stove and it will give off vapours known as loyly. Each sauna has a distinctive loyly.
In a cold and harsh country, a sauna was a way to relax and soothe aching muscles after a hard day of work. According to Finnish rituals, you have to take a shower before entering a heated sauna, and after the session, dunk yourself into the ice-cold water of a lake, or roll around in snow. That's certainly not for the faint-hearted. But don't throw in the towel. If you are in Finland, you have to experience a sauna, because that's an instrinsic part of the country's culture.