Sauna Tradition

Finland has a rugged climate and soil, a people of dour like temperament. They long for variety and warmth in their life…Many Finns (..) were born in a sauna, bonds of friendship have been cemented and conflicts settled in the sauna. It is a great leveler: there are no ministers, VIPs, labourers or lumberjacks on the sauna platform, only sauna mates….In its heat I forget the workaday stress and can meet my friends and acquaintances.
August 15, 1974, International Sauna Congress

The sauna has functioned as: place of birth, washing/bathing, mean for relaxation physically and psychologically, and household chores were conducted there as well (Sauna Studies 1976, Arstila 1983). The sauna provides a safe space for relaxing in peace and allows even the hard-­‐surfaced Finnish male (Trux, 2010) to open conversations, which in daylight might seem too painful or difficult to discuss (Berghäll & Hotakainen 2009, Arstila 1983). The sauna builds an atmosphere of empathy, confidence and trust among bathers, thus making it easy for relationships to evolve naturally into valuable, enduring friendships (Arstila, 1983).

The sauna is “key to meaning” of being for Finns, and is a relevant part of living a Finnish lifestyle (Edelsward, 1993:197). The sauna defines “the relationships between many diverse areas of life, including an individual’s relationship to nature, to him/herself, and to others” (Edelsward, 1993:197). For Finns the “sauna summarizes the values which makes life worthwhile and then tells the way to achieve this meaningful life, by being Finnish” (Edelsward, 1993:199) proving that the significance of the sauna and its meaning as part of being Finnish is a given. Based on the sauna-­‐literature by non-­‐Finns, it is evident how some sauna-­‐practices are more noticeable when being observed by a non‐Finn. The literature by Konya (1987) and Edelsward (1993) approach the sauna practices from a more scientific perspective, where sauna going is explained as if it were a recipe that needs to be followed. Edelsward, however, correctly explains that “from a Finnish perspective, “sauna” refers not merely to the steamy atmosphere which causes one to sweat, but to the design, technology, behaviour, and values inherent in the concept – to the Finnish traditions” (1993:21).

The sauna is a significant part of (Finnish) national identity and everyday culture (Karjanoja et al., 1997). Meaning, that although it is an essential part of national identity and pride, it is integrated into a very regular and daily life in Finland. Literature on the matter states that the “Finns are very conscious of the sauna as an emblem of Finnishness” and “the recreation of it symbolizes Finnishness to the emerging nation” (Edelsward, 1993:179).

Typi non habent claritatem insitam; est usus legentis in iis qui facit eorum claritatem. Investigationes demonstraverunt lectores legere me lius quod ii legunt saepius. Claritas est etiam processus dynamicus, qui sequitur mutationem consuetudium lectorum. Mirum est notare quam littera gothicas.

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Jyväskylä, Finland