The Sauna in Finland: The Sauna Ritual
The basic Finnish sauna ritual is very simple, and Finns are taught to behave in the sauna as they would in church: noise and sexual or otherwise indecent behavior are unacceptable.
Humidity is then created by ladling water onto stones called kinas. The resulting steam, or löyly, is an integral part of the sauna experience. After löyly comes "whisking," when a bather uses a whisk made of aromatic young birch trees to lightly beat himself, increasing circulation and perspiration and releasing a pleasant smell into the air.
Next, bathers cool down, either by sitting in a cooler room or sitting outside, or by taking a shower or a swim in one of Finland's 200,000 lakes. The process can then be repeated.
Finns are taught to behave in the sauna as they would in church: noise and sexual or otherwise indecent behavior are unacceptable. Men and women bathe separately except within families.
Photo Caption: Men in an Independence Day sauna
Credit: Oktober Oy