Sauna in Finland – things you may not know

(VOVWORLD) - Sauna, a small room used as a hot-air or steam bath for cleaning and refreshing the body, is now popular all over the world. Have you ever thought that sauna is a Finnish word and it originates from Finland?  Many Finns may think you can not grasp Finland or its culture without bathing in a sauna. Today we will talk to Amir Degheidy, a Finnish builder who is visiting Vietnam for a vacation, to know more about this kind of bath.

A: Hello Amir. Welcome to VOV’s Culture Rendezvous.  Sauna means a lot to Finnish people, is that true?

B: For me, they’re not so important. But for many Finnish people, it’s a veryimportant thing. When they go to buy a house, the first question is  about the sauna, “I have to go look at the sauna.

A: Sauna is important and traditional as well!

B: The first sauna was in Finland 2000 years ago, so it's a pretty old thing. 

A: How popular is the sauna in Finland?

B: In Finland there are 3 million saunas, and our population is over 5.5 million. So almost every family has a sauna.

Sauna in Finland – things you may not know - ảnh 1A Finnish modern sauna (Photo: wikipedia) 

A: How often do Finnish people go to a sauna?

B: Some people have to go everyday, mostly at night. They relax there, they drink there. It's like  therapy. Take me, I like to go to the sauna in the winter time, because it's cold. Maybe twice a month. . But most of my friends,  every Friday, they will have a sauna night. The whole group goes there. They  stay for a couple of hours, just drinking. 

A: How many types of saunas are there in Finland? 

B: The wood sauna is the most popular because it’s cheap to make. And the smoke sauna is basically like a normal sauna, but the steam lingers. When you go a smoke sauna, you can’t see anything. I have been there  a couple of times, and I  just asked people, “Where are you?”, and they would answer  like, “Ten meters away.” You  just keep walking and peer down at the floor to find your way. And about the electric sauna, you will not have to use fire to heat up the rocks, just electricity. It’s more expensive.

A: As sauna offers relaxation and fun, I wonder if it’s entered the realm of competition?

B: In 2010, the Sauna World Championship, in the final, there were 2 guys:a Russian, and a Finn. They were in the sauna for 7 minutes before the Russian guy passed out. Every 30 seconds, they turned up the heat, and you weren’t allowed to drink. I think it was 140 degrees in there when the Russian guy passed out. The Finnish guy was in a coma for 6 weeks, and 70% of his body was burned. The first thing he asked when he woke up was "when can I go back to the sauna?"

Sauna in Finland – things you may not know - ảnh 2A Finnish smoke sauna (Photo: wikipedia) 

A: He must be addicted to sauna, don’t you think?

B: That guy said he goes to the sauna 2 times a day, once in the morning, and once at night. Some people  feel that they have to go to the sauna, they are addicted to it.

A: When was your first experience of sauna?

B: Yeah. I remember, at school, they were teaching the sauna thing. At the 1st class, which is around 6 or 7 years old, you had to take a swimming class, and they taught sauna at school in this way: before you go to swim, you have to go to sauna, and after swimming, you go back to sauna. At home, if you were 3 or 4 years old, you could go to the sauna. You can’t be too young, because it’s hard to breath in there.

Sauna in Finland – things you may not know - ảnh 3 Finnish vihta (vasta in Eastern Finland), made of birch. It is used in traditional sauna-bathing for massage and stimulation of the skin (Photo: wikipedia)

A: What are your fascinating or disappointing memories about sauna?

B: Only  good memories. Because it’s fun. Most of my friends have passed out in the sauna, because we were drinking heartily. They were like, “Oh, I will take a nap. And you have to be careful, if it’s too hot, you can’t leave things standing. But if it’s normal, which is to say not too hot, it’s ok to take a little break, a little sleep, and then you wake up.

A: Is there any famous place in Finland that foreigners can visit when they want to enjoy a wonderful sauna?

B: There is one very famous Finnish actor, he has the world’s greatest place for sauna, called Loyle. It was built 2 years ago. There is a bar, a restaurant, and a sauna in the same building.

A: It sounds like you can bring a whole company there for a holiday.

B: In Finland, people  have business meetings in the sauna. They get some really good cognac, a couple of beers, and they have the meeting in the sauna. And we are all naked. In a Finnish sauna, we are always naked. There are public saunas in Finland where women and men, everybody goes for a sauna naked together. In the US, they have saunas, but with underwear. But in Finland, they teach us to be naked while enjoying a sauna.

A: Thank you very much for sharing many interesting facts about sauna in Finland. Enjoy your time in Vietnam. I hope to see you again soon.

Culture Rendezvous will be back next week with more stories on different cultural features around the world. I’m Hoang Tung. And now it’s time to say goodbye.