Tuesday, May 16, 2006
How Now Sauna?
Dear Bloggers and Bloggees,
Did you know that in Finland, nearly every home has a sauna? Apartment buildings have a shared one where you rent an hour a week! Finns almost feel dirty unless they've been to the sauna at least once a week. We use ours more often, probably twice a week on average. When we first moved to this house, we used it every day! But it does dry the skin, so us ladies must be careful!
My partner and I heat the sauna every Saturday night, as is the tradition in Finland. For me - as for many other Finnish ladies - going to the sauna includes a lot of beauty routines. I use an exfoliant on my entire body: there's a separate product for the face, for the body and even for the feet! I use a deep-cleansing shampoo and put on a moisturizing facial mask and deep conditioner for the duration of the sauna. After the sauna, I remove body hair with an epilator. No girls, I'm not afraid of pain! The last step is of course to moisturize the entire body with a rich cream - sheer heaven!
For men, going to the sauna is a bit different - it's more about sweating and drinking beer. Although my partner is actually a very atypical Finnish male in that he doesn't care so much for beer. He may have one when we go to the sauna, but quite often we just drink diet soda. Sometimes we have ice-cream after the sauna - it seems appropriate somehow. And this is also a tradition that comes from my partner's childhood home. His parents always have ice-cream after their weekly sauna.
The thing that most non-Finns find surprising is that the Finnish sauna is a place where one invites guests. Whenever we have any kind of party or get-together, we advise guests to bring their own bottle of wine - and their own towel (BYOT!). Yes, we actually go to the sauna butt-naked with our guests and nobody gives it a second thought. That's why we are highly amused by the way e.g. North-Americans are so uptight about nudity.
The men usually go first and it's a very rowdy, noisy affair and they have contests about who can stay in the longest when they throw water on the hot stones again and again. It's some kind of test of manhood or something. Then they parade around the house with nothing on but their towels.
Then it's the turn of the ladies who do their beauty routines, relax, and talk quietly - usually. ;-)
For the Finns, the sauna is a sacred thing. It's difficult to explain to someone who is not from this culture. However, many foreigners grow to love the routine of the sauna once they get used to it. Considering the weather we have at these latitudes, it's not suprising that anyone living here craves the heat of the sauna. The temperature today is +14 C! This morning when I left for work it was +8 C!! Brrr....! :-(
Pink Lady (from all the heat in the sauna)