Finnish Sauna Culture

The word “sauna” is the Finnish structure and practice of bathing in a heated, high-humidity room through heat, sweat, and steam.

These houses are traditionally made of wood, have a wood burning stove and chimney, and a pile of rocks that are heated and water soaked to produce the steam. A seemingly intense procedure, the goal is to sit in the heat long enough to sweat, cool off the body by going outdoors into the freezing air, taking a dip in a frozen lake or rolling around in fresh snow, and then repeat as needed (or that you can handle). Sweat, rinse, repeat.

Benefits of this ritual include increased oxygen and nutrient supply to the body’s cells, improved blood circulation to the body and skin, releasing toxins from the body and soothing aches and pains. This is a time in which you can destress and relax tired, sore muscles.

Finnish immigrants brought over their centuries long tradition when arriving to the United States in the late 19th and 20th centuries. The sauna was often the first building assembled when settling which they could bathe and live in while the other farm buildings were being constructed.

Sauna culture has been growing in the past few years here in Minnesota, an area heavily populated with generations of Scandinavian immigrants. Realizing the benefits of this practice has personal and public structures being erected throughout the state. It is also a gateway to conversate with other sauna enthusiasts and make friends. Sales of sauna equipment used to be prevalent in the upper Midwest states, but has now evenly spread throughout the United States as more of a lifestyle product than a cultural device.