One of the first synonyms, when you mention Finland to a foreigner, is sauna. Sauna is the only Finnish word to make it into everyday English. Ritual of sauna has been performed across Finland for thousands of years.
Strong bond to sauna
In Finland saunas have always been strongly linked to the national culture. Before the existence of public health care and nursery hospitals that we know of today, almost all Finnish women gave birth in saunas.
It is estimated that there are 3.3 million saunas in Finland nowadays. Having in mind that Finland has 5.5 million inhabitants and 2.4 million households it is easy to calculate that on average there is more than one sauna per household. The availability of wood needed to build and warm the sauna has never been a problem in Finland, having in mind that 77% of the territory is covered by forests.
Saunas can be found everywhere. Big companies and state institutions have their own saunas. The Finnish parliament, all Finnish diplomatic and consular missions around the world, the president and the prime minister all have an official sauna.
There are different types of saunas, starting from the most common wood stove sauna, smoke sauna, electric sauna, hot cube sauna, culture sauna, ice sauna, all the way up to mobile saunas.
Health aspect of sauna
For many Finns sauna is very closely associated with their wellbeing. Looking at age group, sauna is good for everybody. Only newborn babies and people with serious health problems should avoid sauna.
It is a place for physical and mental cleansing. It really helps people to calm down after busy and tiring day at work and relieve all the stress and tension. The effect is complete if feeling of having cleaned both body and mind prevails.
Long dark winter nights in Finland demand entertainment. Time cannot be spent more excitingly than enjoying sauna and jumping into snow or frozen lake just for fun. However, sauna is just as popular in the summer as in the winter.
Finnish wellbeing and sauna
Innovation is one of the prime movers of the Finnish society. Since sauna refreshes people’s body and mind, there could be a very high correlation between innovative ideas and sauna. Finland is among the world’s top ten countries in terms of patented inventions per capita. Do you see any connection?
Finland is the second best country in the EU for quality of life, ranked by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In Finland, life expectancy at birth for females is 83.5 and for males 77.5 years. Again, do you see any connection?
There is nothing more Finnish than Finnish sauna. Nobody can understand Finland and its culture without being in sauna at least once.
Read more about sauna from the following articles: