Finland and its many many saunas
Saunas are an essential part of the Finnish lifestyle and culture. There are about 3,2 million saunas in Finland, a land with a population of 5,5 million. Saunas can be found in private apartments, summer cottages and even in corporate headquarters. The Finnish sauna was even added on UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists in 2020, ensuring the vitality of the sauna tradition and highlighting its cultural importance. Needless to say that saunas are a pretty big thing for us Finns.
The ABC of the Finnish sauna culture
If you are not familiar with the sauna experience, the idea of sitting in a hot room half-naked (or naked, if you want the most authentic experience) might seem like a crazy thing to do. However, sauna has numerous health benefits, not to mention that it makes you feel amazing. Sauna is a place for physical and mental cleansing and decompressing from the everyday worries. Going to sauna is also a social process: people build friendships in sauna, make important business decisions in sauna and even have dates in sauna.
Drinking a cold beer and throwing water on the hot stove in the dim light, while gently whipping yourself with vihta (= birch whisk) are all a part of the sauna experience. While the authentic wooden sauna has a slight scent of natural tar and fresh birch, the atmosphere can be enhanced further with sauna fragrances – especially if you are using an electric sauna. Emendo and Hetkinen have a nice selection of sauna fragrances. How do fragrances such as a woody forest, birch and salmiac, pine and sisu sound like? You can even get the fragrance of beer in the sauna!
The sauna experience is of course finished with a dip in the lake or sea, even in the winter, as us Finns are big on ice swimming. Remember to drink plenty of water after the sauna!