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kpaavola
08-01-04, 15:32
I know there are many countries that claim to be the originators of the sauna. I like to think the Finnish "invented" it.

Growing up in Northern Michigan, many of our Finnish family friends had saunas either in their homes or at their camps. We even finally had one in our home. That was 25+ years ago.

I'm curious, is it still a popular thing to have in a house/camp for those who are descendants of Finnish-Americans now that another generation has come? Or, has it become a lost tradition?

Also, are saunas still popular in Finland? Do they still play a large roll in the lives of the Finns?

Just curious...

June Pelo
08-01-04, 17:55
All my relatives in Finland have saunas, either in the house or in a separate building outside. It's my understanding there are saunas everywhere, including flats (apartment buildings), summer villas (we call them cottages). Taking a sauna is a way of life in Finland. Here's an article I found on the Internet - quite interesting.

June

Sören Ahinko
08-01-04, 20:48
The finns are really crazy about sauna. Like June wrote in every house they have a sauna. And when they are planing to build a house or cottage they first place the sauna and then they build the rest of the house.

I most tell you a little funny story.
Just now we have some people from Greece wisiting us. And the man in the family have one heard about sauna. So I try to tould him what this finnish invention is. But he didn´t get so impressed about it. After a while I draw him in to the warm and nice room.
First he said: This is not good.
After awile he said: This is Ok.
Ten minutes later he shout: THIS IS VERY GREAT.
After half an hour he went out.
The evning after he didn´t came out for over one hour and very lucky.
Now he is planning go back to Santorini in Greece and build one Sauna in his new house........


Sören in Sweden

Sören Ahinko
09-01-04, 20:47
........forts

And last night when we went in to the sauna he want to take som finnish "makkara" with him. So we had a "barbcue".
And he also throw water on the warm stones.
Suddenly I, a finn had to go out and take a shower, and a Greek still in hot room.
- Why don´t we go out and roll in the snow? he asked me.
What should I answer to that? I have tryed many years to find some courage to do that. And now he want to do that after tree times in the sauna. Well, we went out in the cold snow and had some fun. But my Swedish neighbours looked out their windows and looked some birdhouse in their faces. Thats when I went in to the warm house again but not my friend. And he run in and out many that night.
And my neighbours is still wonder what it was in Ahinkos garden last night.
This story has a lucky end.
The Greek family went back to Greece this morning.

Sören

Jaska Sarell
09-01-04, 21:51
Originally posted by Sören Ahinko
........
And he also throw water on the warm stones.
........
That makes me remember the only times I have visited sauna in Sweden in 70's.
We, several Finns on work trip, went to a hotel sauna in Jönköping. One time a Swede there soon took his stereos and went off after we found some means of throwing water - there weren't any bucket for the purpose. Another time time a Swedish customer stopped reading newspaper and left.
It seems like your Greek guests know more about sauna than Swedes do ;-)

:) Jaska

kpaavola
09-01-04, 23:29
Sören, your story is hysterical! :p

When visiting Finland, I traveled on Viking Line between Helsinki and Stockholm. I learned the ship had a sauna so I headed straight there. As I entered the sauna, I saw it was rather large and somewhat crowded. I quickly searched for a seat but chose the bench at the top (5-6 rows high) rather than at the bottom. I was, after all, a Finn!

I can tell you that I didn't last that long up there. My skin practically came off! I left the sauna only to cool off and then re-entered. I had to maintain my dignity. This time I sat on the bottom and could tolerate it for quite some time.

Lesson learned: Don't try to outdo an authentic Finn! :)

Cooper
10-01-04, 15:16
Dear friends,

The invention of the suana is one of the greatest inventions of the Finns, to my mind.

Every time I come to Finland I enjoy the real finnish sauna either at my friends' or at the cottage I rent.

I believe the sauna is worldwide popular. In my opinion, nothing can compare to it. Even the turkish baths. also very popular and good for your health cannot compare to the real sauna.

Here in Russia the sauna is very popular.
I go to a very special sauna club called "The Society of Steam and Beer" for 24 (!) years already.

Of course, in our case the sauna often becomes a combination of a sauna and the Russian steam-room.

Thank you for the sauna!

:)

Jaska Sarell
10-01-04, 21:17
Neutral information about Finnish sauna available at:
Suomen Saunaseura - The Finnish Sauna Society (http://www.sauna.fi/)
in Finnish, English, German and French.

:) Jaska

Cooper
11-01-04, 11:08
Thanks, Jaska,

I will immediately visit this site!

Regards,

:)

syrene
12-01-04, 04:06
Hej!
My mother, after her first sauna in Finland in 1946, claims that the reason so many Finns exhibit sisu, is that all the rest have been killed off early by the suana.
On our way to Finland via the ferry, we stayed in a nice hotel in Sundsvall in 1968, where a sauna was available. Reserved time that evening. The maid was Finnish. When we entered the sauna it was 100 degrees! She must have thought we were Finns returning home.
Syrene

Cooper
12-01-04, 16:29
Dear Syrene,

You are truly right about some people's passion for higher temperatures!
I go to a sauna for over 24 years already, once every week. The sauna we visit has a very nice steam-room and we usually keep the temperature there at about 100-110 degrees.
We are usually 7-8 men in the steamroom altogether.
Attached you will see the picture of the Russian steam-room and you will immediately understand what differs our steam-room from the sauna. It is a bunch of young birch branches we use for massageing one another in the steam room. With temperatures over 110 degrees it is too hot to use the birch (or eucaliptus, or oak, or silver birch).

The highest temperature I ever stood in the sauna was 165 (!).

:)

kpaavola
13-01-04, 02:32
....what about saunas in the US? Are they still as popular among Finnish descendants?

kpaavola
13-01-04, 02:37
Originally posted by Cooper
It is a bunch of young birch branches we use for massageing one another in the steam room.

My parents used to use cedar boughs tied together. In English they called it a switch but I forget now what the Finnish word is. Is it more common in Finland to use birch branches?

sune
13-01-04, 09:29
We use only birch in Finland. And you must cut the twigs for the bastukvast (in Swedish) or vasta or vihta (in Finnish) before midsummer, because after that they loose their smothness.

My uncle John Portin, who lived in New Jersey had a sauna. When he visited us in 1972 for the first and only time since 1925, he told me that there was some difficulties to find stones hard enough for the stove. Most of the stones that could be found in river beds an such withered fastly to crumbs due to the extremes i temperature changes when you throw water at really hot stones.

Sune

kpaavola
13-01-04, 14:29
That's what it was, a vihta! Thanks. My parents said to "slap" yourself with the vihta as it would cause the blood to circulate better and "draw out any impurities" in your body. Don't know if it's true or not but growing up we rarely had colds and such.

We were lucky with the rocks. In one particular area near where we lived, on the shores of Lake Superior, the entire beach was covered with round, flat, baseball sized rocks that were polished smooth by the waves. They lasted for years. We also ordered some "lava" rocks but they weren't as good.

Thanks for the info.

Cooper
13-01-04, 17:05
Dear friends,

I am most ashamed to find out that many of you also use the bunches of different trees branches in the sauna.

I honestly thought it were our Russian invention (let us call it know-how) and all my friends coming here from abroad call us "sadists" when we begin whipping one another with birch (often silver fir or even heather) branches.

Comment, please.

:)

June Pelo
13-01-04, 17:19
Here is a sauna my cousin Roger Johnson built on his property in Ely, MN. They use it all the time. I have another picture somewhere of the sauna my father's cousin built in Detroit, MI many years ago.

June

Cooper
13-01-04, 17:53
Dear June,

Your cousin's sauna looks very cute though I must confess that it is not how the sauna looks that matters.
The sauna experts could tell you hundreds of things about what the most important point in the sauna is.

By the way, do you go bathing in the lake after the steam-room?

People here make special openings in the ice on rivers and lakes in winter to soak (refrigerate) there after the steam-room.

I will find a picture to send to you soon.

:)

June Pelo
13-01-04, 20:18
No, I don't go into a steam-room nor do I go into a lake for bathing. There are people in the northern states who do this sort of thing. And it's traditional that on New Year's Day some Polar Bear club members break the ice and plunge into the icy waters. Polar Bear is the name of the club - the members are humans. Brrrr.

June

Karen Norwillo
13-01-04, 20:55
My grandparents had a sauna on their farm in Crystal Falls, MI that I remember quite well. It was a tradition to go there every week for sauna. I am told that in the "old days" the sauna was the birthing place of many of my grandparent's children. It was considered the cleanest place available. Karen

sune
13-01-04, 21:06
Many years ago I had an idea for a book about the Finnish sauna for foreigners. Nothing came from it but I made some preliminary research.

There are basicly two types of steambaths. (And the Finnish sauna is the third).

In the ancient roman bath the room was heated by the means of steam through ducts. The steam did not enter the room but heated it. Thus the air was very hot and dry.

Then there is the Russian type of sauna where the steam is conducted into the room through a pipe or generated by throwing water on the stove. That makes a hot and moist sauna. I've read that many Indian tribes both in South and North America had this type of sauna in tents or huts.

Now, the Finnish sauna is a mixture of both these types. It is moist and dry. When you throw water on the hot stove you get hot steam. But it is absolutely essential that you have very good ventilation. The steam is ventilated out of the sauna when it has made a round and burned everybody in it. The heat remains an the air is dry and you throw some more water on the stove after a while.

It is crucial how you plan the steam room, where you take in fresh air, so it does not cool the air, and where and how fast you allow the stem to flow out.

I know by experience that you can tolerate much higher temperatures in a dry sauna than in a moist one. Much of the moisture you see on your skin in a Finnish sauna after throwing water on the stove is in fact condensed water from the steam.

I you have a heart condition you should be careful in the sauna. It is not wrong to go out once in a while from the steam room to cool of on the porch, in the shower or the lake. Competitions about who can stand more heat are really stupid and you should not let yourself be conned into one.

Happy bathing
Sune

sune
13-01-04, 21:08
Originally posted by Karen Norwillo
I am told that in the "old days" the sauna was the birthing place of many of my grandparent's children

Thera are still living lot of Finns that were born in a sauna.

Sune

Jaska Sarell
13-01-04, 23:27
Some interesting reading about sauna by a foreigner living in Finland:
http://cankar.org/sauna/

:) Jaska

kpaavola
14-01-04, 04:43
Jaska,
That is a great link! I've bookmarked it and will visit it and drool often. ;)

Cooper
14-01-04, 05:57
Yes, really, the site is intersting and the link is very useful!

We do have lots of things to talk about and experiences to share about sauna. Still, there are many more types of baths in other countries. Not so popular, probably, but still...

When visiting the aquaparks all over the world we never find a Russian steam-room there, for example, but always a turkish steam-room and, of course, a sauna!.



:)

Cooper
14-01-04, 06:02
"Many years ago I had an idea for a book about the Finnish sauna for foreigners. Nothing came from it but I made some preliminary research." (Sune)

Dear Sune, you made a very thorough and important research.

Thanks!

It is a pity you did not write this book as yet. It would be a bestseller!


:)

Cooper
14-01-04, 06:04
Originally posted by June Pelo
No, I don't go into a steam-room nor do I go into a lake for bathing. There are people in the northern states who do this sort of thing. And it's traditional that on New Year's Day some Polar Bear club members break the ice and plunge into the icy waters. Polar Bear is the name of the club - the members are humans. Brrrr.

June

Dear June, thanks!

In our country this winter bathing is also rather popular only these people call themselves walruses.


:)

Jaska Sarell
14-01-04, 20:43
Originally posted by kpaavola
That is a great link! I've bookmarked it and will visit it and drool often. ;)
Yes, it's fine that Mihael Cankar writes also about sauna and health. For us Finns the healthiness of sauna is something we take for granted.
The old Finnish saying tells: "If sauna, boose or tar doesn't help, the disease is lethal".
:) Jaska

Cooper
17-01-04, 18:06
Dear Jaska,

Most sorry to seem illiterate but will you please explain what the word "tar" in the saying stands for.
If it is what we know it is then how it was used to cure a disease?

In our Sauna club we also have a saying that could be translated like:
If your work prevents you from visiting sauna, you have to give up the work.

:)

Jaska Sarell
18-01-04, 14:33
Hi Cooper,

I guess you understood the meaning of tar correctly, i.e. the black liquid distilled from pine trees. It was an important export product from Finland in the times of wooden ships. Nowadays used only for traditional wooden boats and old church roofs and such to make wood weather proof.

I tried to find some examples of its old medical uses.
E.g. tar mixed with water was used (internally) against pox and other infectious diseases. Externally tar was used as a mixture with butter for inflamed wounds; as a plaster (bandaid) a mix of tar and oats was used.

And today some EU bureaucrats have decided to ban tar usage altogether as it's considered unhealthy :-( But they know only the tar distilled from coal, which is something else.

BTW. I don't know if tar pastilles like Sisu or Leijona really contain any tar.

:) Jaska

Cooper
18-01-04, 19:37
Thanks for the post, Jaska,

I have a visitor here from Jacksonville, Florida, and we have just discussed with her the medical use of tar (I quoted your proverb, my question) and she happened to know what it was about and gave me nearly the same explanations.

Thanks again.

Yours for sauna, tar treatment and many other things,

:)

kpaavola
19-01-04, 14:56
Cooper, another medical use of tar is for ezcema. My sister-in-law had a bad case many years ago and received a tar treatment at the Mayo Clinic. It helped the condition but it wasn't a cure.

It amazes me how ingenious our ancestors were. It kind of makes you wonder about the 1st guy who thought of using tar: "I wonder what this thick, smelly black stuff will do if I put it here?" ......... :)

Skip Sunnell
19-01-04, 14:58
As a child, I had relatives in Poulsbo who had a sauna. It was wood fired and always on when we were to Sunday dinners there. The cooling option was either a hose off the pump or a jump in the bay.

I had a sauna in the last home I owned in Eugene, Oregon. It was the family 'meeting place' every Friday evening after work. It was a time to re-center as a family. The sauna experience seemed to allow the kids to talk more freely about what was going on in their lives. I made an electric heater out of an old dryer, and built a cooling room (with shower) outside the heat room.

Last year I put a 12 x 20 foot shed out back. I plan to construct a wood fires sauna in one end of it next Spring. Mentally and physically, I've found its always good for whatever 'ails' me.

When we lived in Alaska, we found there were many creative ways to build a sauna. We enjoyed many an experience there with primitive models that really worked well.

Cooper
19-01-04, 16:09
Originally posted by kpaavola
Cooper, another medical use of tar is for ezcema. My sister-in-law had a bad case many years ago and received a tar treatment at the Mayo Clinic. It helped the condition but it wasn't a cure.

It amazes me how ingenious our ancestors were. It kind of makes you wonder about the 1st guy who thought of using tar: "I wonder what this thick, smelly black stuff will do if I put it here?" ......... :)

Right you are,

Sometimes it really makes me wonder if we acqire knew knowledge in the course of life or lose what we already had on the subconscious level.

:)

Cooper
19-01-04, 16:14
Originally posted by Skip Sunnell
As a child, I had relatives in Poulsbo who had a sauna. It was wood fired and always on when we were to Sunday dinners there. The cooling option was either a hose off the pump or a jump in the bay...

Good thoughts, Skip,

The sauna can easily become an excellent means of treatment both physically and/or mentally and/or spiritually.

Thank you!

Cooper
30-01-04, 18:24
Originally posted by June Pelo
Here is a sauna my cousin Roger Johnson built on his property in Ely, MN. They use it all the time. I have another picture somewhere of the sauna my father's cousin built in Detroit, MI many years ago.

June

I promised to send a picture what a sauna here in Russia looks like.

Here is one, a detached one.

:)

June Pelo
30-01-04, 19:34
Cooper,

Thanks. It looks like some that my relatives in Finland have - although it seems that most of theirs are painted red and white.

June

sune
30-01-04, 21:47
Originally posted by June Pelo
... t most of theirs are painted red and white.

During the 19th century there was reportedly a regulation that the houses of the peasants in the country side should be painted red with white corners and the gentry's and the vicarages should be painted yellow with white corners.

Therefore yellow and red are still popular house colours in Finland.

The Finn's idea of paradise is said to be "a red cottage and a potato field".

Sune

June Pelo
30-01-04, 21:56
I agree about red and yellow houses. I saw many of them in Finland. And I know they love potatoes. When I stayed with some cousins in Faboda, they cooked a huge pot of potatoes for our meal. I noticed everyone filled their plates with potatoes, while I took about 2-3 pieces. They asked me if we don't like potatoes in America! And they said that even their 2-year-old baby ate more potatoes than I did! My father loved potatoes and we had to have them on the table every day.

June

Skip Sunnell
30-01-04, 23:03
Not to be out-done re: outdoor sauna's, I've attached a picture of my "future" sauna when I get the heat in it, framed, and appropriately lined with cedar walls and benching. It will be wood fired.

Re: potatoes: When a youngster, my dad purchased an acre of land out River Road (which was then country) in the suburbs of Eugene, Oregon. He planted the entire acre in potatoes. We ate potatoes VERY regularly. He gave the access to our family relatives. Somehow it was good meditation for him to till the land, dig the potatoes, sack them, and dispurse. I guess you can take the farmer off the land, but you can't get the farm out of the farmer. I purchased just under two acres on our property here that I'm busy "re-arranging" with my tractor.

June Pelo
30-01-04, 23:55
Skip,

What a beautiful location for your sauna. Do you have a lake nearby to jump into after a sauna??

June

Skip Sunnell
31-01-04, 04:59
The flower bed in front is a dahlia bed. My aunt Aina (Finnish) got me into dahlias when I was in my early 20's. I've started growing them again.

There is a 3/4" underground pipe coming up at the back of the shed (directly from the pump). I will put an L shaped wind/screen break outdoors and install a large overhead shower head with a pull string for cooling off. In the winter when we drain all the outside piping, we will use snow to scrub with and shower inside the house last.

Cooper
31-01-04, 15:01
Dear Skip,

Your sauna looks great (though not red and white).

Good luck finishing it and getting the best of what sauna gives us all!

Attached I am posting a picture of a typical country cottage in Russia, used mostly in summer, with an in-built sauna.
I bought the one you see here for my in-laws.

:)

Paivi T
11-04-04, 17:01
Yes, the sauna tradition is very much alive and thriving in Finland.

For example, both our daughters started taking a saunabath once a week at a very early age, around 6 to 8 weeks of age... When they were three months old, they started baby swimming. Each half-hour-long "swim" session was followed by a nice warm shower and a not-too-hot saunabath.

Our daughters are now aged 3,5 and 1,5, and both love the sauna. It's the best fun: at the merest hint that the sauna is now ready and waiting, they run to the bathroom and start taking their clothes off. Each girl has a tub full of warm water. They sit in their tubs and play joyously with their toys. That's the only "concession", as the temperature is quite normal for a saunabath, around 80 degrees Centigrade or higher.

For a good measure, our two Australian Terriers sometimes join us in the sauna and sit panting on the benches.

sune
11-04-04, 20:22
My sister had an Australian terrier. It loved hot places. In our sommer cottage she (the terrier) always lied under the gas oven when our mother baked a cake.

Sune

Paivi T
12-04-04, 09:56
Sune, are you sure it was the heat of the oven that attracted the dog, and not the cake baking in it...? :)

Päivi T

Claire
12-04-04, 19:15
I'm sorry to say that we didn't have the sauna habit in our Swede-Finn community when I was growing up. My grandparents didn't have one and I don't remember anyone even talking about it.
However, putting a sauna into upscale homes here, seemed to be popular through the late 70s. The sauna seemed to fit with the backyard pool. In our house, built in 1978, we have a sauna on the bottom floor of the house. It is off the hallway leading to the outdoor pool. Although we've lived in this house more than 3 years now, we've never used the sauna. It is really nicely made of cedar inside. We have the "shower everday" habit, which I believe is typical of most North Americans. It does the job but not so relaxing and sociable.
Saunas do appear in public facilities where there is an indoor pool for recreation.
Our family enjoys hot springs, where ever we can find them. It is a enjoyable activity for us, particularly in the summer months.

Paivi T
12-04-04, 19:39
For us, it's definitely an integral part of our way of life.

Before our daughters were born, we lived and worked abroad for a couple of years, first in Sydney from -94 to -97, then in Singapore from -98 to -99. Sauna featured very high on our list of things that we really missed. Especially because we've always been very active in sports and have played competition-level squash since our university days. What more relaxing after tough games than a nice, long hot saunabath... We played a lot of comp squash in Sydney and would dearly have loved a saunabath after a long comp night. Actually, some sports centres did have a "sauna", however not the kind we Finns were used to. For one thing, the temperature there was set fixed at around 60 to 70 degrees Centigrade, and throwing water on the stove to generate "löyly" was expressly forbidden! A cold sauna with no way to regulate "löyly" qualified as torture to us Finns.

We found it amusing that along with a lot of other things in Australia, the sauna was also contrary to what we were used to. In Finland, a sauna can help up the selling price of a house or an apartment -- in Australia, the opposite happened!

Päivi T

sune
13-04-04, 16:35
Originally posted by Paivi T
Sune, are you sure it was the heat of the oven that attracted the dog, ...?

It was the heat all right. The dog preferred hot sun spots for day time naps.

Sune

Gwenda
20-05-04, 22:58
Hello all

Well, this should get the thread going again. For years now I have been having saunas at my local sports centre, a rather "down market sports centre" to be truthful. Without the twigs/sticks, I really thought this was as close as it got to a true Finnish type sauna, with the hot coals in the corner (minus the water bucket in the last year or so, as people had been going a bit mad with that). However, this week a friend and I visited another, very much grander and upmarket sports centre, and in the 4 hours we had there (couldn`t tear ourselves away from all the luxury and as we had complimentary passes, we made the most of it) we managed two saunas, but only the bottom bench as the top bench was way TOO HOT. The only thing missing was the coals!! Couldn`t find them. Have I missed something? Have saunas gone electric? Also, tried the steam room for the first time (twice again actually)which was a fantastic experience - does anyone know where they originated from?

:D

June Pelo
21-05-04, 00:58
I found 3 articles about Saunas in my files and will attach one here and will send another separately. I think I may have posted one of them earlier. Anyway, they provide some interesting background.

June

See article 121 in the Delphi acticle collection at http://sfhs.eget.net/wikijp.html /Hasse

June Pelo
21-05-04, 01:03
Here's another Sauna article.

June

See article 120 in the Delphi acticle collection at http://sfhs.eget.net/wikijp.html /Hasse

June Pelo
21-05-04, 01:42
Sorry folks, but the sauna attachments to my mail are not what I attached - I don't know how that genealogy record got there. I've asked Hasse if he can figure out what happened to my articles.

June

Hasse
21-05-04, 07:05
Originally posted by June Pelo
Sorry folks, but the sauna attachments to my mail are not what I attached - I don't know how that genealogy record got there. I've asked Hasse if he can figure out what happened to my articles.


I entered the URL addresses to the articles in June's Delphi article collection instead and deleted the direct attachments of June's posting.

Gunnar Damström
25-08-04, 06:54
Sometimes I visit my friend Esko Käyrä on Kayuquat Island west of Vancouver Island for a magnificent fishing experience. Eskos parents moved to Kayuquat Island in the 1920's with half a dozen other Finnish families. They came from the village of Ii in Ostrobothnia. Originally they came from Kemi and their surname was Kemiläinen. Peer pressure make them change their surname and since they had homesteaded in a river bend they took the surname Käyrä (bend in Finnish). Esko was a sick child, suffering from allergies and exzemas and what not. His mother took him to the local naturopat practitioner in Ii. He prescribed a decoct consisting of two drops of tar mixed in warm milk to be taken daily at bed time. When I last saw Esko some years ago he was past 70, walking straight as a flag pole, strong as a black bear, had not been sick since childhood. Esko has a tame harbour seal, Charley that swims freely in the Kayuquat sound. When I met Charley she was past 30. Originally they thought Charley was a male, however that turned out to be a misconception. Since 25 years, Charley has a crush on Esko and rejects any invitations from male harbour seals.

Gunnar