The Finnish sauna is estimated to have been created around 7,000 B.C. However, the first usage of a sauna structure can be traced back 2,000 years. These original structures were dug into the earth and lined with stones. The stones would be heated with fire, then water would be thrown on them to create steam.
Later, the structure evolved into man-made caves covered in animal skins with the same concept of heating stones and creating steam. Initially, saunas were used for survival to mitigate harsh winter conditions. Saunas were where people cooked, cleaned, made hospitals and where babies used to be born. Because of their fundamental role in Finnish society (and other societies with similar structures), the sauna was believed to possess magic and bless those who entered it.
From Survival to Tradition
When your entire culture rests on something as a foundation for survival—it’s no surprise that the thing becomes a tradition. Today, it is considered a necessity for homes to have saunas in Finland. There are even more saunas (around 3.2 million) than cars there! In modern times, the sauna is a place to relax, cleanse oneself or socialize. It is not uncommon for it to be a group activity and a time to catch up on the latest gossip.
Though be warned, many saunas are mixed-gender (you would cover up with a swimsuit in these), and in others that are same-gender, well, it’s customary to get naked. It is definitely not an activity for the shy! Afterward, you roll around in fluffy snow (NOT icy snow) or jump in a cold lake. If you're not near either of those things, a cold shower will do! As long as your sauna sessions are no longer than 20 minutes, you can rinse and repeat this process as many times as you like.
Tradition to Health Benefits
Although our Finnish friends have made a tradition of the wooden sauna, many of us from different parts of the world use it for health benefits. Better yet, how it makes us feel. So what exactly does a sauna do that is so revolutionary? Saunas are great for detoxifying your skin, reducing stress, improving sleep, boosting metabolism, and several other amazing benefits. Sweating it out in a sauna also means sweating out all the bad crap in your body and the stress! So, locate your nearest spa with a sauna (or gym) and try it–if you haven’t already!
How do you practice self-care?