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the essence of finland

1. Edition © Kirjakaari, 2011

Publisher: Kirjakaari, 2011 Texts: Keijo Taskinen Cover photos: Keijo Penttinen Image editing: Keijo Taskinen, Laboratorio Uleåborg Layout and visual image: Laboratorio Uleåborg Translation: Aki Myyrä, Molehill Communications Publisher: Kirjakaari Print: Saarijärven Offset, Saarijärvi 2011 ISBN: 978-952-5969-02-3

Contents Secrets of the Sauna In the Sauna Rich Sauna Culture A Temple of Well-being After the Sauna Sauna-Crazy Finns

For the Love of the Finnish Sauna We Finns love the sauna. It raises a variety of emotions. We assign many personal meanings to the sauna, and there are thousands of stories about it. We have our own weekly routines, and the sauna’s deepest meaning lives in each of us as a kind of tacit knowledge. The sauna brings us relaxation and pleasure. It is soothing, refreshing, and good for the health. It cleanses us both physically and spiritually. Sauna – The Essence of Finland is a fine description of the versatility, history and modern uses of the sauna, sauna-related inventions, and even of us Finns. It presents the Finnish sauna as a temple of serenity and a source of everyday luxury. The sauna is one of our greatest joys, and we would like to share it with you. Have a relaxing read!

Carita Harju Sauna from Finland ry

Secrets of the Sauna The sauna is an ancient invention, mentioned already in the Chronicle of Nestor (the oldest Russian historical manuscript), Viking sagas, and the Finnish national epic Kalevala. Sauna culture was the most widespread in the Middle Ages, when smoke puffed up from European sauna stoves as far as Northern Italy and the British Isles. The origins of the sauna are thus not purely Finnish, but Finland certainly is a sauna superpower. The sauna has stood its ground in Finland since the Stone Age, evolving over the millennia from a primitive heated pit to a modern home spa. Finland is the promised land of the sauna.

Elements of the Sauna A traditional Finnish sauna is a square, wooden room with a stove in one corner. The heart of the sauna is the stove which is, to put it simply, a combustion chamber covered with stones. The door is usually on the stove-side wall, and on the wall facing the door are the benches, often made of aspen, the optimal wood for steam rooms. In modern saunas, the stove can even be embedded in the benches. The interior of a sauna is typically simple and unadorned. The earth floor of the olden times has been replaced by cement and wood; instead of logs, modern-day sauna walls

and ceilings are usually wood panelling. Saunas often have a small window. Modern architecture has enriched the sauna with more decorative lighting and interior materials. In addition, a bucket of water and a ladle are needed for throwing water on the stove to create sauna-steam, which Finns call “löyly” (pronounced somewhat like “low loo” in British English). Bench towels, thermometers and various decorations, such as ceramic sauna gnomes, are common in modern-day saunas.


The Law of Lรถyly (Sauna-Steam) The oldest remaining Finnish sauna plan is from the year 1699. It displays elements still essential to sauna building: a large brick stove standing in the corner, high benches, a small window low on the wall, and a little air vent on the back wall. Although 150 different measurements must be coordinated to build a good sauna, placing the benches correctly will take you far: according to the ancient Law of Lรถyly, the benches must be well above the height of the stove. In traditional saunas, people wash themselves in the steam room. Water is heated in a separate tank or in a container connected to the stove. Modern saunas usually have a separate shower room. Adjoining the sauna, there is often a cosy room, perhaps with a fireplace, where you can spend the evening improving the world while having a snack. 12

Sauna Surroundings Smoke saunas are vulnerable to fire. Medieval laws already required building saunas a safe distance away from other buildings. The sauna gradually moved farther away from the homestead to the lakeside or riverbank. Practical reasons have also kept saunas close to water. In days of old, water was needed not only for washing and creating steam in the sauna but for laundry and other household chores as well. And, naturally, for cooling off and swimming! Even today, water is often carried or pumped from an adjacent lake or river into Finnish cottage saunas. The sauna is an important part of the Finns’ relationship with nature, and the sauna experience is crowned by a beautiful view opening from the window or from the doorstep. Saunas are usually built in peaceful and private locations, often in the shadow of a birch tree. The sauna path is also important. You start getting that sauna feeling as you walk the lovely path toward the sauna.


Eight Generations of Saunas Human beings enjoy warmth. We are also learning creatures. Our early ancestors may well have bathed in hot springs, just like Japanese snow monkeys. But hot springs are not available to most people in the northern hemisphere, so it wasn’t until fire was tamed that people could develop different types of heat rooms. The first Finnish saunas were simple pits covered with animal skins. They were used by hunters who arrived in the land 10,000 years ago, after the Ice Age. Steam was generated in such earth pit saunas by throwing water on stones heated in a campfire. Earth pit saunas have disappeared from Finland, but Native American sweat

lodges preserve a similar tradition. The modern equivalent of an earth pit sauna is a tent sauna, which is easy to relocate, just like its predecessor. As the population gradually settled after the Stone Age, the sauna also began to find its place. The second-generation sauna was born: the ground sauna, which was easiest to build, for example, on a riverbank. The ground sauna featured an earthen floor, three walls dug into the ground, a fourth wooden door wall, and a turf roof piled on a few tree trunks. In the corner by the door, there was a simple stove. A log was cut in half lengthwise and placed along the rear wall as a bench.


The next step of development was revolutionary: the sauna became an aboveground building. Halfway through the Iron Age, the development of log construction paved the way for the third-generation sauna. The skilfully hewed smoke saunas had large stoves, which were basically heaps of ruin stones with a hollow cavity at the bottom serving as a combustion chamber, and no chimney. For half a millennium, Finns bathed in these predecessors of contemporary saunas. As late as the 1930s, half of Finnish saunas were still smoke saunas, but since they took a lot of firewood and heating time, their numbers sank. In recent years, the smoke sauna has experienced a renaissance – its delicate steam and smoke-scented atmosphere are cherished by sauna lovers. Chimneys arrived in Medieval dwellings, and it didn’t take long for them to also find their way to the sauna. The first fourth-generation sauna stoves equipped with chimneys steamed in Western Finland in malting saunas, which were used for drying germinated grain as well as sauna-bathing. Chimneys made stoves more fire-safe, and they spread quickly in 18th and 19th century city saunas. In the 20th century, brick stoves were gradually replaced by heavy-built, barrel-shaped, sheet metal stoves. After World War II, the amount of these large, heat-storing stoves collapsed, but this type of stove has also been revived since around the turn of the millennium by sauna enthusiasts who have rediscovered their mellow steam. During the years of poverty that followed the war, a wood-saving way to heat saunas was invented: the small, continuously heated stove with a light sheet metal shell. It was revolutionary because the fire could be kept burning during sauna-bathing. It could also heat a small sauna in as little as half an hour. In addition, it consumed only a fraction of the wood necessary for its large predecessor. A large part of Finnish cottage and backyard saunas are still equipped with these, fifth-generation type stoves. 18

Sixth-generation saunas moved back inside the home. This was made possible by a new invention: the electric stove. The sauna no longer needed a chimney or fire, so it could be placed almost anywhere. The convenient electric stove soon displaced the wood-burning stove and made its final breakthrough into Finnish homes in the 1970s. Nowadays, a sauna with a shower room is a standard facility in every Finnish home, including one-room flats. The next step was the intelligent sauna with mechanical ventilation and a computer-controlled electric stove. You can sauna-bathe whenever you wish, because the heatstoring intelligent stove is ready and steaming in a few minutes. Home saunas have grown into spas that may have a separate stove for everyday use and special occasions.

Simultaneously, the sauna has become a design product with much attention given to interior design and lighting.

Overleaf Eighth-generation saunas are no longer tied to a certain place – the sauna has gone mobile. In Finland, you can bump into a sauna almost anywhere, because saunas have been equipped with, for example, pontoons, skis and, of course, wheels. For example, you can bathe in a sauna-bus just as well in the great outdoors after a snowshoe hike as downtown after a hard day’s work. Special saunas like sauna-buses are popular venues for staff recreation days and various events.


ABC’s of the Sauna There are three million saunas in Finland, with five million sauna experts to go with them. Needless to say, the Finns’ ideas of a good sauna are quite diverse. Although one shouldn’t argue over matters of taste, there are some features common to all good Finnish saunas.

A Good Finnish Sauna: 1. Has been heated to a suitable warmth (around + 80°C). Sauna temperature is a matter of taste, but it should never be lukewarm. 2. Smells good. The most enjoyable scents come from wood, sauna whisks, sauna aromas, or a soft touch of smoke. 3. Is properly ventilated. 4. Is made for steam. Every bather is allowed to throw as much water on the stove as he or she is comfortable with. 5. Can be either old or new, but it must be clean. 6. Is in a pleasant location. For Finns, the possibility to cool down is important, even in urban saunas. 7. Is, above all, a source of pleasure for the bather. 24

In the Sauna For Finns, born and raised in the sauna culture, sauna-bathing is quite natural. In Finland, children sauna-bathe together with guests and even strangers at public saunas. Thus, over time, the sauna has become a haven of relaxation, where everyone is warmly welcome. However, for first-time sauna-bathers, the heat, moisture, and Finnish sauna rites can add up to a weird experience, so hosts would do well to discuss it with their guests in advance. Guests should be told what will be done at any given time, why and how. It pays off to practise sauna-bathing, because after a few times – at the latest – people usually fall in love with the sauna.

Sauna Etiquette Finns usually sauna-bathe in the nude. However, nudity is not an end in itself – sauna-bathing in a swimming suit or towel is perfectly acceptable. But Finns consider nudity relaxing; titles disappear and people are their own selves. In the sauna, people are genuinely democratic. Although the Finnish sauna might sometimes be a romantic place, it actually has nothing to do with sex. In the old times, people sauna-bathed together regardless of age and gender. This may be strange for foreigners. On trip to Lapland as early as 1799, the Italian explorer Giuseppe Acerbi was puzzled to note that men and women didn’t show “the 28

slightest interest” in each other, even when they bathed together. Still today, in accordance with age-old traditions, the Finnish sauna is a chaste place. Originally the sauna was a place of silence. For Finns, the sauna is still a place where being quiet is not considered unsociable. Breaking the silence now and then, people chat about this and that as well as profound matters. Paying no heed to the passing of time is also part of the deepest essence of sauna-bathing. Politeness, unhurried enjoyment, and consideration for other bathers are the cornerstones of sauna etiquette.

Steam-stricken The pleasure of sauna-bathing comes from the variation of air humidity and temperature. The key is steam, or löyly, the most important peculiarity of the Finnish sauna. Löyly is an ancient Finno-Ugric word that originally meant both the steam rising from the stove and one of man’s souls. Nowadays, löyly refers not only to the steam itself, but also to throwing water on the stove, and even to the entire sauna experience. Heat and humidity is regulated in the sauna by throwing water in appropriate doses on the hot stones. The bite of the rising steam passes quickly, and soon bathers want more. At its best, löyly can be soft as cotton, like being hugged by an angel.

Whisking Another special feature of the Finnish sauna is whisking, gently slapping the skin with a sheaf of fresh birch branches with soft leaves. Sauna whisks are used in individual ways: whatever feels good. The thick-skinned often whack themselves with vehemence. Whisking is an integral part of traditional sauna culture. Finnish folklore tells us the orthodox way to use a sauna whisk: “Start whisking yourself from the top of your head and proceed to drive out diseases: through the toes into the brushes; through the fingertips into the moss.” Western Finns call the sauna whisk a “vihta”, while Eastern Finns call it a “vasta”. The right time to make whisks for the winter is in mid-summer. Fresh whisks are either dried or frozen, and then prepared for use in the winter by soaking in hot water. 31

A Hot Bath Even though the basics of sauna-bathing have remained quite similar for millennia, sauna customs change in the course of time. For example, large outdoor hot tubs have spread rapidly in the 2000s. People bathe in these outdoor jacuzzis, sometimes referred to as “bathing barrels”, after a sauna, shower or swimming. A hot bath complements the relaxing effect of the sauna. In the winter, bathers often wear woollen knit caps to keep their heads warm. Admiring the stars and the northern lights from the warmth of an outdoor jacuzzi is an enchanting experience, indeed.

Into the Lake! Cooling down is an essential part of sauna-bathing. Stay in the steam room as long as it feels good; then it is time for cooling down. When your body has cooled, you can go back in. It is also good to cool down a moment when you are through saunabathing. In the summer, the Finns’ favourite way to cool down is swimming. There is plenty of clean water in Finland – the Land of Thousands of Lakes – where children can play for hours. Finns make the most of their short summer: cottage saunas are heated even at night, in the pale light of the midnight sun.

Overleaf In the Finnish winter, it is easy to cool off in the frosty outdoors or even in the snow. Swimming need not be forgotten even in the winter, because in almost every village, you can find a sauna near a hole in the ice for winter swimming. More and more Finns are adding winter swimming to their weekly routines. Hardened Finns enjoying an ice-cold swim and a full moon in the freezing temperature of - 37°C.

The ABC’s of Sauna-Bathing 1. Reserve plenty of time for sauna-bathing. 2. Enter the sauna with a curious mind. 3. Sauna-bathe either in the nude or wearing a swimming suit. Leave your eyeglasses out of the sauna. Sit on your bench towel on the upper bench. 4. Relax. Breathe evenly. 5. Listen to your body and trust your senses. Sweating and flushing skin are perfectly normal. Drink water while you cool off to compensate for your sweating. 6. If the sauna feels too hot, go down to the lower bench or out to cool off.

7. When you are accustomed to the initial heat, throw small amounts of water onto the stove to get a feel for the steam. 8. Take breaks to cool off outside. Go for a swim or roll in the snow. 9. Try using a sauna whisk by patting yourself gently on the legs and upper body. 10. Visit the steam room as many times as you wish. 11. Wash yourself before leaving the sauna. 12. Continue relaxing after sauna-bathing, alone or with friends.

Rich Sauna Culture Nowhere else in the world does the sauna have as great a role in people’s lives as it does in Finland. The sauna is a Finnish symbol, connecting Finns with nature and their roots. For our ancestors, the sauna was a lifeline, without which our country would never have been settled. The Finnish roots of the sauna are confirmed by the fact that in all world languages – except in Swedish and Russian – sauna is “sauna”. People have lived, given birth, and cooked food in the sauna. Nowadays, Finns sauna-bathe in many different contexts. The nature of sauna-bathing changes according to the occasion. A traditional Saturday-night family sauna, a sauna evening for participants of an international conference, or the victory sauna of a sports team are each very different experiences.

The Finnish Sauna Society The Finns’ passion for the sauna comes from experiences in different stages of our lives. It is the inheritance of our people’s millennia-long, unbroken sauna tradition. The sauna connects Finns to past generations and the entire history of Finland. Finnish sauna traditions are preserved and promoted by The Finnish Sauna Society, established in 1937. The society has a sauna centre in Vaskiniemi, Helsinki, where members and their guests can bathe. The society also produces, collects and distributes saunarelated material in Finland and abroad.

Finland, the Land of Saunas • Finland is the world’s leading sauna country. • Finns sauna-bathe a lot: 90% of Finns go to sauna at least once a week. • Sauna visits accumulate to over half a billion a year. • There are approximately 3 million saunas in Finland. • Around 500,000 saunas are by water. • There are almost 190,000 lakes in Finland. • All together, Finland has 88,000 kilometres of shoreline. • Finnish lakes and rivers are clean.


The Versatile Sauna The sauna has always played a central role in Finnish life. In addition to relaxation, refreshment and washing, the sauna has been used in different times for: • Living • Giving birth • Storing the deceased before burial • Healing sicknesses • Caring for war wounds and sports injuries • Cleansing from sicknesses and sins • Cupping • Massaging • Cooking • Flax work • Performing magic spells • Conjuring love and marital fortune • Smoothing political relations • Closing important business deals and making agreements • Improving the world – or at least trying to!


Sauna Customs of the Olden Times The past centuries of sauna-bathing were marked by myths and incantations for evicting vermin and disease as well as producing good, hot steam. There were certain beliefs concerning the location, building material, and firewood used in a sauna. The first lÜyly of a new sauna required knowledge of ancient customs to ensure continuous good sauna-bathing. Bathing in someone else’s sauna also required its own spells. A sauna is never built on the site of a previous building. - Viljakkala 1936 In times past, people believed that each sauna had a guardian spirit, or a sauna gnome, that protected it from fire or other damage. People kept him satisfied by knowing and following sauna-bathing customs. You were not to anger him with loud speaking, singing, or cursing. Once the household had bathed, they left the after-lÜyly for the gnome. Sometimes they also left him a cup of water and, at Christmas time, a bowl of porridge. Wooden, stone or ceramic sauna gnomes in many modern saunas are reminders of the age-old tradition. A sauna gnome is a long-bearded, one-eyed, old man with a pointed hat, who lives behind the stove. - Mikkeli 1936 45

Gate Builders For Finns, the sauna has always been a type of threshold or gateway through which people have come and gone. Important rites of passage in the olden times were, for example, giving birth, the bridal sauna, and washing the bodies of the deceased and seeing their souls off to the afterlife. The sauna was also used for incantations and healing. It is no wonder, then, that saunas were respected. For modern Finns, the sauna is still a special place for dealing with different turns in life. Achievements are celebrated and sorrows grieved in the soothing steam. Sauna-bathing upon arrival and departure from the summer cottage is also customary. Above: Reindeer herders in the early morning in Kittil채, carrying wood into the sauna and cabin to be ready for the evening. At sunset, the last fence posts are up and it is time to wrap up a hard week of work in the relaxing steam of a wilderness sauna. 46

Sauna on Special Occasions There are specific beliefs concerning sauna-bathing in different seasons and on holidays. A whisk tossed in the air while exiting Midsummer Night Sauna shows singles which direction their future spouse will come from. On New Year’s Eve, the sauna is the perfect place to wash away the past year’s grime. Ale thrown on the stove during Christmas Sauna ensures an abundant harvest. Finnish Christmas traditions and the sauna are inseparable in many other ways as well. Millions of Finns enjoy Christmas löyly at roughly the same time. But not to worry: there is plenty of room on our sauna benches for every single one of the well over five million Finns – with room to spare for guests, also. Even the Korvatunturi folks – including Santa Claus himself – go to sauna as soon as their Christmas hurries are over.


After Work The sauna relaxes muscles and minds tired from work. In the olden times, people sauna-bathed most often in the summer, after sweltering days of farm labour. Smoke saunas were heated at least twice a week in the summer and once a week in the winter. Today, many Finns go to sauna every day after work. While in sauna, people don’t usually talk about work, but rather about life in general. The staff facilities of factories often have a sauna where people can cleanse themselves both physically and mentally after a hard day’s work.


Front Row Seats Sports and sauna go hand in hand in Finland – even during games. In some hockey stadiums, you can even watch a game or event from a sauna. The Harju Stadium in Jyväskylä is the only place in the world where you can watch national league football while you sauna-bathe. Right by the stadium, you can find the mobile Sauna Bar. This stylish sauna was designed by Architecht Jarkko Könönen.


Music For the Soul The sauna has inspired Finnish artists for centuries. High culture sauna-steam is enjoyed in books, paintings and movies. Even cultural events are organized in saunas nowadays. A good example is the annual swing concert in Rymättylä in the Turku Archipelago. The enormous ground smoke sauna can accommodate an audience of 124 women. The spirit rises to the ceiling when the headliner, the legendary trumpeter Ted Curson, finishes his concert with Sibelius’s Finlandia.


Public Bathing

Steam of Life

Public saunas were common in Finland until the 1950s. It was often the custom that the whole village took turns bathing when someone heated their sauna. The next time it was someone else’s turn to heat theirs. City-people went to relax and wash at public city saunas. As the number of private saunas increased, public saunas were gradually shut down. Only few are still operating in Finland’s cities. Communal sauna-bathing has recently been rediscovered. The public sauna hours of housing cooperatives and village saunas attract plenty of bathers. For many Finns, a sauna with friends or neighbours is a part of their weekly routine.

Finnish men have a reputation of being withdrawn and reluctant to talk about their emotions. However, this does not seem to apply to the sauna. Since the dawn of time, even the roughest of men, caressed by soft steam in the darkness of the sauna, have openly told their friends things they would never have revealed in broad daylight. These stories make up the film Steam of Life (“Miesten vuoro”, literally Men’s Turn), a poetic dive into humanity. In the award-winning film, men sit in the sauna naked and speak honestly from their hearts. The film travels through Finland making stops at a number of different types of saunas to hear men’s touching stories about love, death, birth, and friendship – about life. Some of this book’s photographs are from scenes of the fine film. Above: Mika Hotakainen (on the left) and Joonas Berghäll, co-directors and screenwriters of Steam of Life, going to the sauna. 57

Peacekeepers Finns who move abroad carry with them their concept of the right kind of sauna. And not only the concept – a sauna is often the first thing expatriate Finns build for themselves and their friends to enjoy. When Finns move, the sauna moves with them. The hottest places in the world’s crisis regions since the 1950s have been the saunas of Finnish peacekeepers, whose motto is, regardless of the operation, “Build saunas first; then appease the fighting parties.” Peacekeepers have bathed in legendary Finnish saunas in around 30 operations in Asia, Africa, the Balkans, and the Middle East. In harsh conditions, saunas are oases of relaxation that have spread Finnish sauna culture around the world. Peacekeepers are ambassadors of the sauna.

Sauna Diplomacy Finland has long traditions of sauna politics. The sauna has paved the way for many important decisions and agreements. The secret of sauna harmony is simple: when clothes are off and the sauna is warm, it is people, not titles, who talk. A good example of modern sauna diplomacy is the popular Diplomatic Finnish Sauna Society of D.C., founded by the Finnish Embassy in Washington. Members of the society include civil servants, lobbyists, journalists, and other people with influential roles behind the scenes of politics. The goals of the society are to discuss Washington’s hottest news and scoops, to create new topics for discussion, to relax in good company, and to spread the joys of Finnish sauna culture and promote other Finnish achievements as well. On the right, Ambassador Martti Ahtisaari, Foreign Minister Ahti Karjalainen, and Tanzanian Foreign Minister John Samuel Malecela sauna-bathing in Dar es Salaam in 1974. Ahtisaari won the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition for his significant efforts to resolve international conflicts. 58

Spa Culture Public swimming pools and spas belong to the Finnish way of life. The sauna is an inseparable part of Finnish spa culture. In the sauna compartments of these oases, you can find, for example, smoke, steam, and cave saunas, as well as relaxation saunas that play sounds from nature. Spas also usually feature versatile well-being services.


Sauna Business The sauna is an essential part of Finnish work and business life. Hundreds of Finnish companies produce sauna-related products and services, so the sauna is also very significant for the economy and employment. Saunas are also important export products because Finnish sauna producers are the best of their trade – which can be seen on the pages of this book. Sauna product and service providers launched the “Sauna from Finland� concept, which aims to promote Finnish sauna culture and support the development of sauna services.


A Temple of Well-being The sauna has always been a source of well-being and pleasure for Finns. Sauna-bathing relaxes the body and soothes the mind. Using a sauna whisk, different treatments or sauna aromas, or cooling off by swimming or rolling in the snow are all ways to increase sauna pleasure. Current studies have proven true the Finns’ firm, ancient belief that the sauna is a source of health: it is a clean place, and sauna-bathing is suitable for people of all ages regardless of their state of health. The sauna is a modern health spa with an ancient tradition.

Sauna for Everyone The skin is an important disposer of waste products and also the body’s largest organ. It is no wonder that sweating treatments have been given for thousands of years in different parts of the world. Heat causes skin capillaries to expand, so that even up to 70% of the blood circulates through the skin. The most important physical changes caused by sauna-bathing take place in the bloodstream. Sweating deep-cleanses the skin and removes dead skin cells. The main health effects of the sauna are relaxation and release from stress, as you take the time to calm down and the warmth flows through your body. The increase in body temperature also stimulates the hormone system, for example, by increasing serotonin, a neurotransmitter essential for sleep. Thus the sauna is believed to ease falling asleep and to improve sleep quality. Research has been done on sauna-bathing at least in Germany and Japan in addition to Finland. The University of Jyväskylä has made a comprehensive summary of the health effects of the sauna. Moderate sauna-bathing has been proven safe, even for pregnant women and people with heart disease. The conclusion is evident: the sauna is healthy for everyone, from little babies to their grey-haired grandparents.


Healing Sauna

Saunas and Cupping

In the old days, the sauna had a central role in disease treatment. Already in the Finnish national epic Kalevala, Väinämöinen rescues his people from threatening diseases by heating a sauna and calling on a god to come make steam and to heal people. A strong belief in the healing effect of the sauna can be seen in old Finnish proverbs, like “If sauna, booze and tar don’t help, your disease is to your death”, and “The sauna is the Finnish national medicine”. The peat sauna is one of the modern forms of Finnish sauna therapy.

Cupping is an over 5,000-year-old treatment, which spread to Finland in the 1400s. Cuppers travelled from sauna to sauna, letting blood. The treatment was long forgotten, but its use has recently increased again in Finland. People believe cupping alleviates, for example, skin diseases, cardiovascular problems, migraine, and muscle pains.


Peat and Sauna for Your Health Even the ancient Romans knew the therapeutic effects of peat. Central Europeans, including Napoleon and other royalty, have enjoyed peat treatments. But Finns were needed to discover how the sauna enhances the health effects of peat. In a peat sauna, people cover their bodies with sterile sedge and highmoor peat, dug from the depths of bogs. Then they enter a gentle 50-60°C sauna. A quarter of an hour is enough. The peat suit is washed away and it is time for a rest. During treatment, you must drink plenty of water. The peat sauna offers relief from many conditions: arthritis, gout, musculoskeletal disorders, prostate and menopausal symptoms, and skin diseases. In addition, the peat sauna removes toxins, relaxes the deep muscles and relieves stress. The peat sauna is a powerful form of therapy, which is recommended only for people in good basic health, unless by doctor’s permission.


Whisking Works Wonders Sauna whisking, inherent to the Finnish sauna, improves the circulation and stimulates the metabolism. Whisking is an easy way to bring heat to hurting parts of the body. Whisking adds up to the equivalent of a gentle massage. As a bonus, you get a cleansing skin treatment because birch leaves not only give off a fresh scent, but they also secrete therapeutic agents on the skin. You can enhance the therapeutic effect by making a juniper whisk or by adding a few juniper twigs to a birch whisk. In addition to whisking, the health effects of sauna-bathing can be increased, for example, with ethereal oils, honey or other skin-care products, and mood lighting.


Sports and Sauna Muscles and joints exhausted by exercise are relaxed and begin to recover in the warmth of the sauna. It is no wonder, then, that Finnish athletic training programs have always included throwing water on a sauna stove. People used to see the sauna as the secret weapon of Finnish endurance athletes. Everyone knows the magic of the sauna for heat-treating muscles, so a post-workout sauna has become an institution in Finland. While waiting for the home sauna to heat up, many people go for a jog. Sauna-bathing crowns the work-out, jog or hike, and an after-sauna snack completes the enjoyment.


Sauna-Yoga The sauna and yoga have much in common: both are used to seek relaxation and peace of mind. Sauna-yoga is a combination of the sanctity of the sauna and the muscle exercises of different branches of yoga. It is a calm, half-hour exercise, suitable for everyone, which is done either standing on a yoga mat or sitting on the sauna bench. You begin sauna-yoga by quieting down and emptying your mind with breathing exercises. You strengthen your body by stretching, first standing up, then seated. The session ends with a final relaxation exercise. Stretching muscles is easy and safe in the moderate warmth of 50째C. Yoga in the dim light of a sauna thrills your soul and opens the locks of your mind. After sauna-yoga, your metabolism is stimulated and a smile comes easy. 77

Cold-Hardened Is there any sense in going from a sauna to swim in ice cold water? Yes, there is, because winter swimming regularly is healthy in many ways: it lowers your blood pressure, improves your energy balance and cold resistance, washes away your stress, and improves your mood. Winter swimming also maintains the elasticity of the skin by slowing down cell ageing. The stimulant effect of winter swimming is based on the fact that large differences in temperature increase stress hormone secretion. You can get a similar hormone rush from a long snow bath. Winter swimming is suitable for almost everyone. You do not need to consult your doctor first, unless you have some kind of disease. A simple checklist for first-timers: • Let your body cool down a little before you go in the water. • At first, only stay in the water for a few seconds. • Do not be frightened, even if it takes your breath away momentarily. Before you go in, take a deep breath; exhale calmly as you step in the water. • Dress warmly after sauna and winter swimming. • Listen to your body – winter swimming is an individual experience for everyone.



Staff Days The sauna is an essential part of Finnish well-being at work. Many occupational health services culminate in sauna-steam. Finnish training programs are often finished on the sauna bench. Training, sauna, and good food – these are all it takes to create a high-quality staff day program. The hissing, moist breath of the stove brings employees closer to each other and places difficult issues in perspective. Developing businesses and their staff is also a source of employment: dozens of companies around Finland are specialised in sauna-related health services.


The Sauna Spirit In times past, the sauna was a sacred place for Finns, and the steam rising from the stove stones connected bathers with hereafter. Myths sung at campfires and saunas describe how healing performed in the sauna unites the soul with the entire universe. Leisurely sauna-bathing is a timeless ritual that nurtures mental health. The sauna spirit lives ever on, whenever the stove hisses from water thrown by an unhurried hand.

Overleaf For Finns, sauna-bathing is, above all, recharging the body and mind with pleasure and well-being. Peace of mind could well be the most important health effect of the sauna. After sauna-bathing, you are cleaner inside and more receptive to life.


After the Sauna Sauna and food go hand in hand. In the olden times, the sauna was an important part of the home kitchen. Clean and warm, it was the place to smoke-cure meat and to dry malt. After sauna-bathing, people had a fresh drink and ate a light meal. Even today, the sauna experience is crowned by a salty snack or a delicious meal made of fresh ingredients. There are special recipes for sauna foods. Sauna-bathing on a special occasion culminates in a special menu.

Gifts from Nature Juicy shoots, sweet berries, aromatic mushrooms, red-fleshed fish – Finnish nature is abounding with delicacies. Sauna-meals are often prepared from the healthy offerings of nature. The Finnish wilderness yields the most eatables during the late summer harvest time. For example, crab feasts in August are a summer tradition for many Finns. Finland has extensive public rights, even for foreigners, which allow picking berries and mushrooms in almost any forest and angling almost anywhere. Many Finns have a summer garden that provides vegetables and salads to complete the sauna table. A lot of local food is eaten at the summer cottage.


The Sauna Menu Finns sauna-bathe so often that after-sauna meals are usually quite simple. Sometimes, however, there is reason for a festive sauna and meal. Here is a tasty menu for four people to celebrate life:

Sauna-Sapas (Finnish tapas, appetizers) Chanterelle Soup Reindeer fillet and Game Sausages Potato Terrine Wrapped in Leek Cloudberry Brulee and Cloudberry Compote Sauna-Sapas:

malt bread and butter seasoned with ground dill pepper salmon 400 g salmon fillet 10% salt brine

Rose-, green-, and black pepper malt bread

Cut 3 cm wide bars from the fillet and marinate them for 2.5 hours in the brine. Dry the salmon bars and grill their surface on a hot stove. Grind the peppers and roll the bars in the pepper mix. Wrap the bars in plastic film and refrigerate. 90

Slice the malt bread. Use a round cookie cutter to make 3 round pieces per person. Butter the pieces. Cut thin slices from the salmon bars. Place 3 slices overlapping on each piece of bread. Decorate with cress mix.

Chanterelle Soup: 300 g chanterelles 2 tbsp flour 100 g onions 50 g butter 3 dl chicken or vegetable stock salt, pepper 3 dl whipping cream SautĂŠ the onions and chanterelles in a saucepan. Add the flour. Add the stock, then the cream. Let simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Parsley mousse: 2 dl skimmed milk 3 sprigs parsley

salt, pepper

Put the parsley and milk in a saucepan. Finely chop the parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Heat the parsley and milk on the stove. Whip continuously, until the milk is foamy.

Reindeer fillet: 150 g reindeer fillet per person. Bring the meat to room temperature well before cooking. Season the fillets with salt and black pepper. Brown the fillets in butter and finish cooking in an oven at 100°C. The meat is at its best when the interior is 53°C.

Game Sausage: 250 g moose and pork breast meat 2 metres pig intestines 2 pcs allspice 1 bay leaf

Red Wine Sauce: water 250 g potatoes 0.5 dl chopped onion salt, white pepper and allspice

Boil the meat with the spices in a small amount of water until well done. Boil the pealed potatoes for 10 minutes. Sauté the onions. Run all the ingredients through a meat grinder with a coarse blade until fine, then smoothen the mixture by adding broth until it is porridge-like. Check the saltiness. Rinse the intestines. Fill them slightly short. Tie the ends with roasting string. Cook the sausages in the stock of the meat until well done. Fry the sausages in a pan before serving.

2 shallot onions 30 g carrots 30 g parsnip 30 g celery 1 tsp tomato puree 1 clove garlic

Roast the root vegetables with the butter and sugar in a saucepan. Add the tomato puree, red wine, and water. Boil the mixture down to one third of its original volume. Add the home-made broth and spices. Bring to a boil. Lift aside from the stove to settle. Strain the gravy (thicken with flour if necessary). Check the taste.

Potato Terrine Wrapped in Leek:

Cloudberry Brulee:

500 g (Rosamunda) potatoes 100 g browned butter

5 dl whipping cream 5 egg yolks 1 vanilla pod

juice of half a lemon leek

Paste the potatoes with oil and bake them in the oven at 160°C for 50 minutes. Brown the butter. Squeeze the lemon juice. Boil the leek sheathes and dry them well. Line a suitable casserole dish with the leek sheathes. Split the warm, cooked potatoes and scoop their interior into the casserole dish. Stir in the lemon juice and browned butter. Mix with a wooden spoon to break down the potatoes. Season with salt. Press the mass tightly into the casserole dish lined with leek sheathes. Refrigerate the terrine for 3-4 hours for it to harden.

4 dl red wine 4 dl home-made broth 2 dl water sugar thyme and black pepper

200 g cloudberries 75 g sugar

Bring the whipping cream, the split vanilla pod and the sugar to a boil. Add the cloudberries. Stir. Place the cream in the cold for 24 hours to season. Strain the broth and stir in the broken yolks. Put the brulee in oven-proof dishes. Cook at 93°C for 20-35 minutes (the brulee must set). Cool. Cover the surface with cane sugar and torch it lightly. Serve with cloudberry compote.

Cloudberry Compote: 200 g clowdberries 80 ml gelling sugar

Bring the cloudberries to a boil along with the gelling sugar in a saucepan. Do not mix too much, in order to keep the cloudberries intact. Cool and serve with the brulee. 93

Sauna Stove Sausages Sausages are typical Finnish sauna snacks. Sausages are roasted in the fireplace or above the sauna stove. Delicious variation comes easily by adding cheese and vegetables. Like this:

1 package grill sausages 1 dl cucumber relish 2 tomatoes cut into small cubes 1 dl grated cheese 2 sliced onions 2 cloves of garlic 1 zucchini oil ½ tsp thyme 1 tsp salt black pepper 1 aluminium foil sausage bag or aluminium foil from a roll Mix the chopped tomato cubes into the relish. Remove the sausage skins and cut deep diagonal slits in the sausages. Fill the slits with the relish and tomato mixture and cover them with the grated cheese. Place the sausages in a sausage bag or fold a pouch yourself from a double layer of aluminium foil. Slice the garlic cloves. Season the onions and zucchinis. Sprinkle a bit of oil over the vegetables and garlic. Add the vegetables on top of the sausages and seal the pouch carefully. Roast in a container above the stove, on the grill, or in the oven for 20-30 minutes. Serve the sausages directly from the foil pouch.


Sauna-Crazy Finns Finnish apartments and cottages are usually equipped with a sauna. There are actually more saunas in Finland than cars! Nearly one third of all the world’s 10 million saunas are in Finland. There are saunas for every taste and need, from traditional lakeside saunas to modern design city saunas. But for the steam-stricken Finns, this is still not enough – there is no limit to the inventiveness of Finns when it comes to saunas.

Inventors at Work Engineering students in Kuopio wanted to build a modern, roadworthy sauna. They created the innovative INSSIsauna. Thanks to its oval shape, steam spreads evenly throughout the room. Freely adjustable ventilation ensures quality löyly. The temperature of the stones, the smoke, and the sauna room are measured every second. Stone

temperature tells the bather when to add firewood and how much. Measurement results are monitored on computer screens inside and outside the sauna. While sauna-bathing, you can also listen to music, surf the web, or watch movies. The technology takes its power from a large battery charged by environmentally friendly solar panels.

Overleaf A combine sauna, a phone booth sauna, and a hot air balloon sauna – some of the more peculiar products of Finnish sauna enthusiasts’ minds. Inventive jacks of all trades who build saunas out of old cars or trailers can be found all over Finland. The assembly of mobile saunas in Teuva gathers thousands of people every year to enjoy such extraordinary steam rooms.


A Sauna With a View In the breathtaking scenery of Ylläs, a fell in Finnish Lapland, you can enjoy the steam of an ultra-modern sauna. Built in a gondola ski lift, it combines sweet sauna steam with an expansive wilderness landscape – visibility at the top of Yllästunturi can reach up to 130 kilometres. The lift ride up and down takes a quarter of an hour. The only gondola sauna in the world has definitely raised interest: dozens of articles have been written about this literally high-class sauna in the media around the world.

Sauna in a Smoke-Stack (Overleaf) Finland’s first plywood factory was established in 1912 by Wilhelm Schauman in Jyväskylä. The city grew around the plywood factory, which was for long its largest employer. It was finally shut down in 1995. The JAMK University of Applied Sciences renovated one of the factory buildings into a teaching restaurant for hospitality management students. The factory’s old smoke-stack is also steaming again – an elegant, round sauna was built in it. The unique smoke-stack sauna seats 10 bathers.


On the Roof of Europe Light tent saunas are part of Finnish camping traditions. Hunting trips are crowned by lรถyly in the allembracing peace of the backwoods. Even sauna-bathing on a mountain is not impossible: a Finnish expedition heated their sauna up on Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe (4,810 meters). The steam of the specially adapted stove was so good that the bathers washed themselves in the snow.

Overleaf Finns erect heavy-duty tent saunas, for example, on motor and boating holidays and during festivals. Twenty bathers fit easily in a half-platoon tent. Outside the sauna, it is nice to cool off and relax around a campfire.


On the Water

Icy Steam (Overleaf)

Waves lap gently against the wood, and the sun frolics on the mirror of water. Clean water caresses the toes of a swimmer warmed by löyly. As you swim out on the lake, the sky and water meet. Thoughts loom on the blue serenity embroidered by daylight. Silence calls while diving under water; a tern calls on the surface. A floating sauna is a wonderful way to enjoy the Finnish summer.

Building a sauna of ice is quite a task. Ice blocks are sawed and laid like bricks to make the walls. Crushed ice and snow are used as “mortar” between the blocks. All in all, a good 20 tons of ice may be needed. It is not cold in an ice sauna because at times the air is so thick with steam that it is hard to see. The sauna experience is crowned by cooling off in an adjacent hole in the ice.


The Finnish Dream The view from one’s own lakeside sauna is often where the landscape of the Finnish soul opens... “The second load of wood is burning in the sauna stove. I sit down to enjoy the moment. The smoky scent of firewood spreads in the opaque light of the late-summer evening. I close my eyes. This sauna raises memories of my childhood summer holidays and my grandparents’ stories about our family sauna. There are many different kinds of saunas, but for me, one is above all others. This is the sanctuary of my soul, where my busy life disappears and my mind is cleansed. How peaceful I always feel here. I add some firewood, leave a drink for the sauna gnome, according to our tradition, and go rowing out on the lake. Water drips from the oars onto the day’s last dance of sunlight on the tranquil water. I feel a touch of joy. Yes, I am happy.” 114









Partners in Cooperation


Cover image: Sauna, accommodation, conference, and catering services, Revontuli Holiday Centre, pages 2-3, 85 (above),122-123 Aarne Pietinen / The Finnish Museum of Photography: page 67 Antti Helimäki / Kannonnokka: page 79 (on the right, below on the right) Aino Klinikat Oy image bank: pages 68, 69 Eeva-Liisa Anttila / Sauna from Finland Association: page 12 –13 Erkki Laitila / Lehtikuva: page 57 pages 7 (above), 25 (above),63 (above), 95 (above) Hanne Manelius / Sauna from Finland Association: pages 74, 75 Harvia Ltd. image bank: pages 4, 34, 35, 40-41, 61, 95 Heikki Färm / Oktober Oy (Ltd.): pages 49, 98 (above on the left) (The film Steam of Life) Heikki Riikonen: pages 37 (above), 43 (above), 63 (above) Herrankukkaro image bank: pages 52-53, 53, 62, page 71 (on the right) I. K. Inha / National Board of Antiquities: page 14 Jaakko Kilpiäinen / page 76 Jaakko Tähti: pages 31, 109 Jorma Jämsen / page 10 (above) Jouni Laaksomies: pages 8, 13 Juho Kauppinen & Mikko Ruotsalainen / Savonia University of Applied Sciences: pages 96, 97 JAMK University of Applied Sciences (Jyväskylä) / Antti Kurola: pages 102–103 JAMK University of Applied Sciences (Jyväskylä) / Pekka Rötkönen: page 103 Kari Härkönen, Pietari Kauttu, Tuomas Poikela & Sami Vähänen / Helo: pages 104, 105 Keijo Penttinen / Revontuli Holiday Centre: front cover, page 48 Keijo Penttinen / Sauna from Finland / Sauna Bar: pages 50-51, 51 Keijo Penttinen / Spa Hotel Rantasipi Laajavuori: pages 58, 59, 83 Keijo Penttinen / Varjola Guesthouse: pages 78, 89, 90, 106, 107 Keijo Taskinen: pages 6, 9 (on the right), 27, 44, 45, 46, 47, 64–65, 77, 112 Keijo Taskinen / Seita Holiday Resort: page 82 Keijo Taskinen / Unique Lapland: pages 20–21, 21 Keijo Taskinen / Ylläksen Yöpuu: pages 32–33, 33 Kuvawiik: pages 15 (on the right), 73 Malla Hukkanen / Oktober Oy (Ltd.): pages 37, 55 (The film Steam of Life) Milka Alanen: page 26 Nikkarien Oy (Ltd.) image bank: page 9 (on the left) Pouttu Oy (Ltd.): pages 92–93 Päivi Eronen: pages 54, 66, 98–99 Rovaniemi Tourism and Marketing Ltd.: page 111 Rukan Salonki Chalets: page 110 Sassa Stenroos / page 94 Sauna from Finland: pages 15 (on the left), 41 (above) Seppo Pukkila: pages 38, 43 (on the left), 70, 71 (on the left), 80, 81, 113 Sport Resort Ylläs: pages 100, 101 Sun Sauna Oy (Ltd.) image bank: pages 18, 19, 60

page 9 (on the left), 106: Sauna accessories, Nikkarien Oy (Ltd.)/Saunia, pages 10-11, 30, 72, 82: Charter sauna and “bathing barrel”, accommodation and catering services, Seita Holiday Resort, pages 18, 19, 60: Custom-made sauna furniture, Sun Sauna Oy (Ltd.), pages 20-21: The Saunabus, program services, Unique Lapland, pages 22, 25: Visit Sauna, a website and store for friends of the sauna, pages 32-33: Accommodation and program services, Ylläksen Yöpuu, pages 34, 61, 106: Stoves and saunas, Harvia Ltd., pages 37, 49, 55, 98: The film Steam of Life, Oktober, pages 50, 107: Sauna textiles, Jokipiin Pellava Oy (Ltd.), pages 52-53: Charter saunas, catering, and conference services, Herrankukkaro of Rymättylä, pages 58, 59, 83: Spa and hotel services, Restel Oy (Ltd.), Rantasipi Spa Hotels, www. pages 68, 69: Peat saunas, Aino Klinikka / Med.SPA Aino pages 78, 89, 90, 106, 107: Charter saunas, catering, conference, and adventure/ activity services, Varjolan Tila, page 79: Adventure/activity and conference services, Kannonnokka Oy (Ltd.), www. pages 100, 102, 104, 105: Electric and wood-fired heaters, steam generators, and infrared saunas, Helo Ltd., pages 102-103: Smoke-stack sauna, JAMK University of Applied Sciences (Jyväskylä), page 110: Ice sauna, accommodation, conference, and catering services, Rukan Salonki,

(Photographs...) Timo Veijalainen / AV-Lappi: page 81 Tuukka Koski / Kannonnokka: page 79 (below on the left) Veli-Pekka Hentilä / page 36 Ville-Matti Laakkio: page 98 (below on the left) pages 7, 16–17, page 23, 24, 28–29, 39, 42, 63, 84, 85, 86, 87, 108 pages 22, 25 VVI VAT 2006: pages 10–11 , 30, 72 page 56

Literature Dozens of excellent books and hundreds of articles have been written about the Finnish sauna. The Finnish Sauna Society even publishes the warmspirited Sauna magazine for löyly-lovers. The recent research on the healtheffects of the sauna done by the University of Jyväskylä is a versatile source of information on the sauna, fully equipped with links to websites. Here are some of the sources of inspiration and information for this book: Eeva-Liisa Anttila’s sauna articles Heli Koppelo & Milka Alanen: Naisten saunakirja (The Women’s Sauna Book). Ajatuskirjat 2006 Jari Jetsonen & Juha Pentikäinen: Löylyn henki, kolmen mantereen kylvyt (The Spirit of Löyly: Baths on Three Continents). Rakennustieto 2000 Juha Nirkko & Henriikka Salonen: Sauna – pieni perinnekirja (Sauna – The Little Book of Tradition). SKS 2010 Liisa Neittaanmäki: Saunan terveysvaikutustutkimus (Study on the healtheffects of the sauna) . University of Jyväskylä 2011 Marketta Forsell: Saunan taikaa (The Magic of the Sauna). Minerva 2007 Mervi Hongisto & Merja Pihlajamäki: Saunan Salaisuus (The Secret of the Sauna). 2005 Päivi Eronen: Kylpijät – The Bathers. Maahenki 2007 Interviews and articles of Sauna Bloke Pekka E. Tommila The Finnish Sauna Society: Sauna magazine

Sauna - The Essence of Finland  

Sauna – The Essence of Finland is a visual feast—an engaging panorama view of Finnish sauna culture and spirit. Expressive photographs lead...

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