leisure activity

The Culture of Saunas Around the World: Part 1

For hundreds of years, spas and saunas have been used as a leisure activity for cultures all over the world. These are long-standing cultural traditions that have been enjoyed for years and are the inspiration behind our modern day hot tubs. Here’s a brief guide to the different spa practices that have been enjoyed around the world.

Russian banya
The Russian banya is an old-fashioned bathhouse that was used as a social activity for people of all ages. Russian peasants would use the banyas as a place to wash every day, while the upper class enjoyed private banyas. Visiting a banya was seen as a spiritual experience and the entire town would go on a Sunday, a tradition that is still practiced in Russia today. They even believe each banya had their own spirit, named Bannik, who would hide under the bathhouse benches and throw hot water and hot stones at people who were disrespectful and disobeyed the rules to the house.

Japanese onsen
These are natural hot springs formed by the country’s volcanic activity. Japanese people practice soaking in these hot springs by a means of rejuvenation, healing, and to channel their spirituality. Legends show that these spas were formed by Buddist monks back around the 500s, and these spas are among some of the oldest in the entire world.

Finnish sauna
The Fins love saunas as a leisure activity and boast almost 2,000 in their small Nordic country alone. Sauna is actually a Finnish word, which means hot steam bath, and the saunas in Finland are small wooden structures with a cluster of hot stones. Steam is created by pouring water over these stones, and it is a tradition to stay in the sauna until you’re nice and hot, then roll around in the snow as a way to cool down. These sauna practices have actually been so beneficial that a study of Finnish men over the course of 20 years suggest that frequent sauna baths may help you live longer.

Interested in learning more about spas around the world? Keep an eye out for our next blog post!

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