The Finnish Sauna

HELSINKI -- The small sign marking the location of the Harjuntorinkatu sauna on the side of the apartment building where it is housed was easy to miss, but you couldn't glance past the nearly naked men lounging out front next to the public sidewalk, protected from the elements and eyes of passersby only by towels around their waists. This was the place all right.


A group of men in towels cool off and drink beer after a hot sauna at Helsinki's oldest public sauna which opened in 1928.
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We've received numerous e-mails from Finnish readers since this adventure began imploring us to take a Finnish sauna. Wrote one:

"Do accept as many sauna invitations as you receive. First, because saunas are so much more beautiful, clean and varied than the institutional saunas one has access to in America. Second, it's a great honor to be invited. The experience is only partly about feeling as clean as you'll ever be in your life; it is one of the Finns' great ancient rituals. No grudges, clothes, social pecking order, or titles can enter the sauna. It's a physical and spiritual stripping-away of the unessential and superficial.

"Finns are reverential about the sauna. In the glow of the softly lit wood-lined space, they chat jovially or fall into a comfortable silence. The heat makes one welcome a dip in ice-cold water or a roll in the snow, as improbable as that sounds. Food and drink afterward never tasted so delicious. There is etiquette which has to do with practical and safety questions, but generous Finns will walk you through it. As is their method of rearing children, it's a window to the Finnish psyche."


Kari Veijonen, sitting outside his Naantali home after a sauna, invited Robert G. Kaiser and Lucian Perkins to join him for a steaming hot bath.  (Lucian Perkins - The Washington Post)
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Actually we have had one sauna already. Last Sunday evening we accepted the invitation of Kari and Tuire Veijonen to visit the sauna in their big apartment in the old and beautiful coastal town of Naantali, on the outskirts of Turku. After absorbing the moist heat of the sauna for as long as seemed appropriate, we followed Kari, an advertising executive, out onto the terrace that overlooked the sea. The weather was nippy, but somehow the heat of the sauna kept us warm for long, pleasurable minutes as we drank cold beer, also protected by no more than a towel. Passersby paid no attention to us.

This, our first sauna experience, was everything promised: We finished feeling refreshed and invigorated. The wrinkles and bumps caused by days of hard traveling quickly disappeared from our bodies.

In the mood for another sauna, with the good excuse of needing more photos, I visited Helsinki's oldest public sauna, and the only one left that uses a wood fire to heat the stones which, when doused with water, creates the steam heat that is the essence of the sauna. When I arrived the crowd outside was friendly and talkative as they sipped beer and smoked. Some were celebratory, as was Ari Viipanen who was here with his son and friends to mark his son's 18 birthday.

The manager of the sauna, Jari Kuosmanen, surveyed the scene. "This is nothing," he commented. "You should visit here in the winter when they come out to roll and lie in the snow."


Italian tourist Salvatore Iovene takes cold shower after a sauna at the Harjuntorinkadun public sauna in Helskini. (Lucian Perkins - The Washington Post)
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Later South Korean Sung Hwan Hong and his Finnish wife came out to cool off after their sauna. As they hugged each other and chatted, he recounted his sauna experience when they visited his wife's family in eastern Finland. After that sauna, he joined the Finnish tradition of jumping in a frozen lake through a whole cut in the ice. "It was a little chilly," he told me with a laugh. (Traditionally, as was the case here, the sexes take the heat in separate rooms.)

The anecdote made me a bit envious. I'm not sure I would have wanted to roll in the snow or jump in into a frozen lake, but to photograph this experience--that would have been memorable.

-- Lucian Perkins

By Robert G. Kaiser |  June 3, 2005; 10:45 AM ET  | Category:  Culture
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Comments

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A little correction: The traditional way of going to sauna or "taking the heat" is not by segregating the two sexes in separate rooms. That is a late "invention" derived from the public saunas in urban ares. Going to sauna is essentially a family tradition and in their saunas at home most families go together. It is only the very youngest urban generation that doesn't value this tradition. I think this tradition is why we Finns do not have such an "anglo-american" complex to nakedness and nudity as most americans seem to have. Being nude and watching the sunset listening to the birds by the lake is a key to Finnish mentality. By the way: the last house I lived in had once a week a common sauna turn (which means that there is no segregation of sexes) and it was the most popular turn during the whole week, always crowded.

Posted by: MikkoL | June 3, 2005 01:49 PM

Most of the politics and big decisions are usually made in the saunas and thats why there are special dedicated "sauna societies". Here's an example: http://www.serviecclesiae.org/ Not so many people take the sauna culture as seriously as these guys seem to be taking.

Posted by: Pappi81 | June 3, 2005 01:58 PM

Hei Mikko!

Our saunas are clean. We live in Michigan and we are offended that you imply that American saunas are dirty. 12 out of 20 students in our class have taken a sauna in the last month and only two of us have no Finnish blood.

Please, remind people of the proper way to say Sauna is... "sownaa" not "sanaa" as most Americans say.

Thank you, for the articles on Finland. We read them as a class each day.

Posted by: Chassell 7th Grade Geography Class | June 3, 2005 02:17 PM

"Going to sauna is essentially a family tradition and in their saunas at home most families go together."

Yep. And I've seen most of my relatives (both genders) naked dozens and dozens of times in sauna. Aunts, uncles, cousins (boys, girls), grand mothers, grand fathers, second cousins, friends, mothers/fathers/sisters/brothers in law (not my own), neighbours, teachers, class mates... Isn't that horrible? :-)

Posted by: | June 3, 2005 02:31 PM

Hei!
The Finnish sauna tradition is wonderful. But be warned, it is the one place where Finnish men let competition get the better of them. If non-Finns (such as myself) enter the Sauna for the first time, some (not all) Finnish men will pour on the steam to test you and see how long you can bear the heat! You will earn points the longer you can stay.

Thanks for the great articles! Finland is a wondeful country and the people there are some of the nicest and most genuine you will ever meet. And in case they are reading this...Hi to Timo, Pekka, Tytti, Johanna, Terhe, Kai and Monica!

Posted by: Amerikalinen | June 3, 2005 02:39 PM

You should definately try out the smoke sauna, which is a more traditional type of sauna. It's heated before the heat-taking and when heating the sauna the smoke comes into the sauna-room. It then goes out through a hole in the roof.

A while before the sauna-taking the fire is extinguished and the sauna is ventilated. The rocks stay hot, so you can still get "löyly" for several hours. People often go to the sauna at 7PM, but the smoke sauna is still hot enough at 3AM the following night, so you can take heat again if you like.

Posted by: Emppu | June 3, 2005 02:49 PM

There are also saunas built in the congrecational centers of many parishes. One of the best is the one of helsinki cathedral parish. It's at the top of the roof and almost like a little summer cottage with a view over the sea and archipelago south of the city. It almost makes one to forget being at the very center of helsinki between two cathedrals posing naked in the sunset.

Posted by: | June 3, 2005 02:49 PM

Hey where's the part about the welfare state? I think they forgot to mention it.

Posted by: | June 3, 2005 03:02 PM

"Hey where's the part about the welfare state? I think they forgot to mention it."

all work and no play makes phil a dull boy, all work and no play makes phil a dull boy, all work and no play makes phil a dull boy...

Posted by: | June 3, 2005 03:08 PM

"That is a late "invention" derived from the public saunas in urban ares."

Just to clarify, public saunas are actually an old invention and they have been going out of fashion for decades. They were popular in the days when apartment blocks did not have saunas (neither one sauna in the building, nor individual saunas in apartments). In Helsinki there used to loads of public saunas (up until the 60s?? somebody correct me!) but now there are only a handful. I've never been to one (apart from swimming pools/gyms) and don't know anyone under 40 who has been to them. So it is not really a typical sauna experience in Finland, but must be nice anyway :) It's probably true to say that most apartment blocks now have saunas. In older buildings some of the storage space was converted into a sauna. (These conversions took place in the 60s, right?!) The way it often works is that each apartment has a specific time once a week when they have the sauna all to themselves.

Posted by: Laura | June 3, 2005 03:12 PM

Laura, actually is nowadays very popular for guys (age 20-30) to start their evening out in a public sauna in Helsinki, even when they have their own saunas at home. And Harjutorin sauna is one of the most popular ones for that purpose.

Posted by: EP | June 3, 2005 03:25 PM

robert and lucian,
I can't tell you how nostalgic your diary of finland has been to me. I feel like I am back in northern minnesota where I grew up, speaking finnish as my first language. The sauna was our only bath in the fifties, later got a shower, finnish people did not believe in putting your feet in a bathtub of water, then washing, very unclean. The rocks for the stove were colllected from the shore of Lake superior. Cedar balms were collected so we could swish ourselves. Pleas tell me their is a downside to this Paradise we call Finland. If only this country would listen to what can happen if you invest in ones education. Thank you again, it 's a great wasy to start my day. Judith Horne (Norhala)

Posted by: Judith Horne | June 3, 2005 03:46 PM

Actually its Harjusauna or Harjun Sauna, located on Harjukatu in Kallio, Helsinki, but nevermind (while I'm at it, check out http://www.kallioblogi.com/ about the region, finnish only, sorry).
This particular one also has two private saunas one can rent and they have traditional services like "old time backwashing" and "kuppaus" (only translations I found were 'cupping' and 'scarification', of which neither sounds correct. http://www.kuppaus.fi/ for more info, only in finnish tho).

As already mentioned that is one of the best public saunas there are (that I know of). Lucky for me, I live just around the corner and can smell the awesome smell of them lighting the stove up in the morning. Sometimes you forget that you're just few miles off downtown.

Posted by: Jukka K. | June 3, 2005 03:51 PM

Public saunas are a "late invention" based on the facts you (Laura) gave because they are closely and firmly connected to the urbanization process of our society. It's phenomenon of emerging finnish citylife at the beginning of 20th century. After all most of us finns used to live in the countryside up till 1960's. The beginning of 20th century is a LATE stage compared to the whole and long history of our sauna culture although the changes have been rapid during the last 60 years.

Posted by: MikkoL | June 3, 2005 04:02 PM

The thing called "kuppaus" is incorrectly stated as a "chinese practice" in the photo collection, whichs it most cenrtainly is not, at least in the sense of having been imported from china to finland. The traditional finnish way of doing kuppaus is carried out by tools made of cows horns. There's also a hammer like tool for making the necessary tiny little holes to the "patients'" skin.

Posted by: | June 3, 2005 04:13 PM

"The Harjuntorinkatu is the only sauna in the country that still uses a wood fire to heat stones" is there a typo or something? The only PUBLIC sauna that still uses a wood fire? Hmm... hard to believe what ever you ment.

A sauna oven which works with wood is very common, especially on summer cottages etc. But also in normal use, we have two saunas at home, the eletric one, which is located in the main building is used on the winter time, and the wood fire sauna on summer time and on Christmas eve.

You should have visited also in a private sauna... The feeling in a public sauna is far away from the ideal one.

Posted by: MJ from Finland | June 3, 2005 04:17 PM

Hi folks!

I'm a Finnish man married to an American woman and because of that I've visited the USA a couple of times. My wife comes from Minnesota and has partly Finnish ancestory. We spent last summer there in Minnesota. As you could expect at one point you just get a longing to have a sauna. Everybody kept telling to me to go to the Y(MCA), they have saunas there. I did that, but that experience was horrible. First of all they have the rule that you're not allowed to throw water on the rocks. Come on, that's ridiculous! I haven't heard of anyone getting an electric shock from throwing water on the rocks. The other hideous thing about saunas at the Y is that you have to freeze there. People go there in their sweat suits to stretch and read the paper. It was just horrifying. We also took a couple of trips to the Iron Range in northern Minnesota. I thought I would get a decent sauna there, because that's one of the places where the Finns still roam in the states. But actually it wasn't any better there either. Those saunas were also a joke and had stupid rules like no water on the rocks and no drinking beer etc. That made my wife and I disobey the rules and smuggle beers and throw water in there and generally mock the American saunas. Thank God I met at one hotel two gentlemen one from Michigan and other from Minnesota who understood the real way of taking sauna. We have in our plans to move back to states within a couple of years. I'm alright with that, but only the fact that I need to be without a good sauna for a long time feels just hard. Well I know that I'm going to have one of my own sooner or later. That's about all about my sauna experiences in the States. I'd be really glad if you people of Minnesota, would give me some hope of having a good sauna there.

Posted by: TapioH | June 3, 2005 04:19 PM

My apologies, after reading the text I noticed you had already done that. Hopefully you enjoyd it. By the way, I just came from sauna:)

Posted by: MJ from Finland | June 3, 2005 04:19 PM

Good stuff!
Some thoughts:
-What happened in Tampere??? No articles?
-Will you report on the other great national pastime, boozing? The tax on alcohol was lowered recently.

Posted by: Windy | June 3, 2005 04:37 PM

Actually, if any American would have access to one of those silly signs saying you may not throw water on the stove; I'd be quite willing to compensate your troubles. I want one in my own sauna to be laughed at!
hank dot w at nullwave dot net

Posted by: Hank W. | June 3, 2005 04:49 PM

We had the pleasure of visting Finland for 3 weeks a few years ago to attend the wedding of our Finnish au pair. As uptight Americans, we were hesitant at first to exerience the sauna. By the end of the trip we realized how important the sauna is in Finnish culture and what an honor it was to be invited by our host families to take a sauna. By the end of the trip we felt our day was somehow incomplete if we were unable to find a sauna. It is a part of our trip we will never forget.

Why no mention of the birch switches? Imagine how strange it was to be handed a bunch of branches and told to smack ourselves in the back while we were in the sauna.

Finland is a paradise of natural beauty and terrific people. It is too bad Americans never seem to venture further than Helsinki. They are missing the best parts!

Posted by: | June 3, 2005 04:49 PM

What is a "Whole cut"?

"After that sauna, he joined the Finnish tradition of jumping in a frozen lake through a whole cut in the ice."

Posted by: P.R. Pace | June 3, 2005 04:51 PM

These reports could stand a little proof reading.

Posted by: | June 3, 2005 04:55 PM

All of my grandparents came to America from Finland. As a small child I can remember going to the sauna with my grandma but at the time did not realize what an important part of her culture this experience was. I went simply to get the cold orange pop she would buy me when we were through. How I wish she were alive now so that I could tell her I understand why she wanted to go. Thanks for letting me say this.

Posted by: Kirsten | June 3, 2005 04:59 PM

Greetings from sauna. I was sitting outside afterwards, listening the first cuckoo of the summer, and had a pretty good 'kuppaus': hordes of mosquitoes and other bloodthirsty ticks have become active just today. *slap* ;)
That was just the regular electric sauna, however. Tomorrow I'm planning, for the first time this year, on heating up that best sauna in the world, our lakeside wood-burning one. :)

Thank you for this very enjoyable blog!

Posted by: Kielo | June 3, 2005 05:09 PM

If I remember correctly, there has been public saunas in Turku ever since it was founded, if not even before. There was a more or less permanent market place on the mouth of the river Aura, long before the town was established. In fact, that's what the name Turku means - a market place.

Posted by: Jaana | June 3, 2005 05:11 PM

"-Will you report on the other great national pastime, boozing? The tax on alcohol was lowered recently.

Posted by: Windy | June 3, 2005 04:37 PM"

I would guess that they will HAVE to pay attention to this because of the "traditional" school's-out-celebrations and warm summer weather. Children (sadly so) and young(ish) people are celebrating by going outdoors and drinking heavily. This does not apply to all young people and currently the trend seems to be that the number of drinking kids is diminishing. However, drinking is a strong cultural model and personally I am always scared when vappu (1st of May, Labour Day) and school holidays are nearing...

Posted by: Helsinki City Boy | June 3, 2005 05:15 PM

The Harjun Sauna is the only public sauna in Helsinki which is heated by the wood.

And a truly great place to visit!

Try to get a smoke sauna, as that is the king of all saunas. The mellowness and softness of the heat is unbelievable. Only by trying...

Posted by: petteri | June 3, 2005 05:16 PM

I have always been a great admirer of Scandinavia and these articles have only reinforced my admiration.

Posted by: sophie | June 3, 2005 05:37 PM

"What is a "Whole cut"?

"After that sauna, he joined the Finnish tradition of jumping in a frozen lake through a whole cut in the ice."

It means a hole cut in the ice!

Posted by: Helena | June 3, 2005 06:25 PM

As to the comment "These reports could stand a little proof reading" and the first "whole cut" comment (if it was meant sarcastically) - shame on you!

From what I've seen, it looks like many, if not most, of the people posting comments here speak Finnish as a first language, not English. And they're doing a beautiful, beautiful job of writing in English. Could you do such a good job of posting in a foreign language? I speak German fairly well, but certainly don't write it perfectly - and would be offended if somebody chided me for my attempts.

Reading the various posts generated by "Finland Diary", I must say that I've been very impressed by the Finnish people. Not only by how well they write in English, but by their measured, intelligent, welcoming sentiments. Their posts have really made me want to visit Finland - moreso even than "Finland Diary" itself - and it had never before ocurred to me to do so.

I'm certainly a very proud American (and a conservative Republican - horror!). But I'm so tired of seeing (some of) my fellow Americans just using these posts as opportunities to criticize another culture. Why not just sideline the judgements for a while and take advantage of the opportunity to learn about something new?

Posted by: Julie | June 3, 2005 08:09 PM

sauna's effect is like something that of pharmacognosy: you really don't know the scientific evidence of the treatment, but you still feel it. it maybe can be compared to the good feeling of a high standard religious ceremony. afterwards you feel calmer and maybe have a feeling of unexplenatory joy.

the other way to look at the matter is the sociological one. the general is at the same level with the private in the sauna. and you avoid to discuss of sensitive topics that get your blood hot. what you get of this is the respect of each other that is unconcious after you are back to the normal business again.

as i study now i go to the sauna after a hard day. i have a couple of cups of water to get the humidity and lay down. i receive a pleasure without medicine. also it is easy to asleep. and in the morning there is a good start to a tough day again.

all in all the sauna culture is hard to explain. there is no sense to it. it just is. still the reporters are again doing a good job of doing that that is to be done on this issue.

Posted by: pharmaceuticeutics student | June 3, 2005 08:31 PM

By saying "These reports could stand a little proof reading" I meant that the American reporters who are writing these articles should do a better job of proof reading. If anyone posting here had the impression that I was critizing their english, I deeply apologize. :)

Posted by: | June 3, 2005 10:23 PM

One of the photo captions says, "Many Finns have their own sauna." It seemed to me living there the past 2 years that MOST Finns have their own sauna -- and many families have 2, one at home and one in the summer cottage.

The home sauna is typically electric, but summer cottage saunas are usually in their own small building near the water, heated by wood. A small room, often with a fireplace, is a pleasant place to change and to relax after the heat. But in nice weather one would always stand outside and enjoy the air and the view (and the beer :)

I have heard that there are enough saunas to hold all 5 million Finns at the same time.

And I don't think anyone mentioned that the temperature is normally 90-100 C, which is 194-212 F! My favorite word in Finnish is "löyly", meaning the hot steam from throwing water on the sauna stove. One of the hardest for an American to pronounce: LOW-loo is close, but the sound of 'y' in Finnish doesn't exist in English, is a bit like a German 'ü'. http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/finnish.pronunciation.html

A wonderful link: http://cankar.org/sauna/index.html

Posted by: Franklin Davis | June 4, 2005 12:16 AM

Finally about Sauna - the only Finnish word used in almost every language.

What does an average Finnish fellow like me do this weekend? Well, after wrapping things up at the office (yes, Finns work weekends, too), I'll drive home, get my wife and drive 100km to our cabin. My sister has her cabin near ours and she's throwing a birthday party there. So, I'm just guessing here but there's probably going to be good food, wood-heated sauna and quite possibly alcohol throughout the whole thing.

Last weekend, I put together a wooden swing for two people, it could have been from IKEA for all the tiny little parts involved. Still, now it's under some birch trees facing the lake. There's a small island infront of our cabin and sun sets behind it really nicely. If it wasn't for these damned Canadian geese crapping all over the beach, it'd be perfection...

Posted by: Timo A | June 4, 2005 03:00 AM

Julie,

I'm glad you think this diary and the comments paint a positive picture about my country and countrymen. I'm however sad that so many Finns here seem to have an obsession about comparing our culture to the American - even without any real facts but only impressions from American tv-shows. Lighten up, friends.

For some people unaware of the Finnish way of communicating, some comments may seem blunt and even arrogant. Don't be offended - it's just the way we (not all, though) communicate. In fact I love this way of bringing one's thoughts out in the open and correcting minuscule mistakes, without any thoughts shed to politeness in expression. Very typical - out with the facts, forget about the chit chat =) Honest communication. You even see this in workplaces, where people address their superiors by first name and come out with their opinions without hesitation.

The sauna in Harjutori is excellent and the part of Helsinki (Kallio) it is situated in is a classic. Any foreigners not being afraid to confront unpolished but very interesting locals should absolutely spend an evening of their trip in these fabolous bars (after having tried the sauna, of course). Leaving the area before 2 a.m. is however advisable - not that it's dangerous, but just to avoid accidents.

By the way - if someone plans a trip to Finland and wants to receive information/hints from locals, I'm sure that leaving an email adress here would result in several answers. You might even get Finnish contacts or even better - friends.

Mark

Posted by: Mark | June 4, 2005 03:41 AM

It just occured to me that Bob&Luc have found one subject noone seems to want to critisize. No sauna is un-christian posts, no sauna causes cancer researches, no claims about immoral practices in the sauna! NOTHING ! I mean maternity box was attacked, Finnish universities were trashed, daycare is not good for the child inspite of master's degrees and Nordic walking was too embarrasing to do in the daylight.

Sauna everybody loves! And that's great, finally we can all agree about something. Saying that I am now waiting for a "language-warrior" to come out and remind that Swedes still insist to call it "bastu" instead of "sauna"...

Posted by: Timo A | June 4, 2005 04:49 AM

"No grudges, clothes, social pecking order, or titles can enter the sauna."

Just remembered interesting thing, it just hit me when I read that sentence. I thought I'd share it with you.

When I was in was serving my 362 day military service few years back, our unit had this little celebration because of a excercise that went really well.

We ate and then wen't to the sauna. Me and my friend noticed that one liutenant colonel coming in. Then we started chatting with him, really casually, no titles were involved.

We talked about what my and my friends future plans were after the army and what made him to stay in the defence forces permanently and what he had planned to study before it. We also talked about football (the real one, not the american fake).

Talked a while and then me and my friend left for a swim. The next day everything were back to formal, like it is in the army when talking with a superior officer. My rank was corporal.

Posted by: Juanito | June 4, 2005 05:34 AM

"It just occured to me that Bob&Luc have found one subject noone seems to want to critisize... Sauna everybody loves!"

Well, ok then, I'll critisize it a bit. As a child I really, really did not like sauna at all. It felt too hot and I found it hard to breathe. I used to stay near the floor where it was much cooler but this would result in arguments with my parents who wanted me to "stop being silly" and climb to the upper seats. Sometimes as a teenager I used to almost faint if I stayed in sauna for too long. So not everyone loves sauna. But now, the older I get, the more I like it. I still have to be careful not to stay there too long, but I do get the desire to go to sauna quite often now.

(There are those who say hot sauna + cold lake + alcohol is an unhealthy combination, but we won't go there...)

Posted by: Laura | June 4, 2005 05:45 AM

"I mean maternity box was attacked, Finnish ..."

That's called jealousy. I guess sauna is too exotic topic for foreigners unlike other things.

Posted by: | June 4, 2005 06:26 AM

As an American studying business here in Mikkeli, I ran into a Finnish student that was an exchange student near my farm town in the States, he throws Redneck jokes at me and I tell him old Savo jokes. Tonight we're heading to his summer cottage for sauna and beer before coming back to town to hit the bars. After a long week of this intense Finnish university crap you've been forced to read over and over again, a hot sauna and a cold beer is a great way to relax. Four years of Finland down- one summer to go. Gotta get all the saunas I can get before heading back to Oregon!

Posted by: Kalevi | June 4, 2005 06:50 AM

"Gotta get all the saunas I can get before heading back"


Write "sauna" to google and find instruction how to build one, how to order one from finland.
Sauna is not exactly Finnish, only the word is.
The ancient customs stayed probably behind in Finland as the weather is cold.
(Someone about the word sauna, swedes for example had them too, the word was translated to their own language, but the king there forbade them. Too relaxing, not good for warriors. Why there is no sauna left in Russia I dont know. But elsewhere in Europe there was them as well.)

Posted by: | June 4, 2005 06:56 AM

There is misinformation in the picture gategory(harjuntorin sauna is the ONLY wood heated sauna in Finland)That is not quite true. There are other wood heated Sauna's in Finland too....
Also public ones.

Posted by: Justrememberthis | June 4, 2005 07:20 AM

You can find a lot about the history of sauna in the internet but as to why sauna survived only in Finland centuries ago: Apparantely elsewhere in Europe, including Sweden, sauna evolved into "massage-parlors" with varied adult-services. Meanwhile, in poor and undeveloped Finland babies were still delivered in saunas, so the new ideas didn't take root here.

Posted by: Timo A | June 4, 2005 07:32 AM

Taking sauna is one of the reasons to visit Finland. Each time I am "home" in Chicago, I miss taking sauna. The feeling of this pure cleansing of body extends also to cleansing of the mind, soul, and spirit. Each time I return to Finland, I am truly "home again" when I take my first sauna. And smoke sauna (savusauna) is the best. As said in comments above, the American sauna is NOT a true sauna - wearing swim suits, no water on the rocks, and temperatures that hardly raise a sweat. There is truly nothing that equals a real Finnish sauna and a clean lake somewhere in a forest in Finland. Many Americans think it must be a sexual experience (since there are no clothes), but it is actually a spiritual one. The spirit is strengthened and renewed by the whole experience.

Posted by: Karen "Lulu" Foley | June 4, 2005 08:27 AM

As a finn I like finnish sauna a lot but to be honest if you wanna get even better experience you really should try russian sauna (banja).
f.e in St'Petersburg there are
tens of excellent public banjas.

Posted by: | June 4, 2005 08:31 AM

My father was born in a little village of four or five farm houses in the countryside. He told me that when he was young boy in the beginning of last century the village had only one sauna. It was quite common habit then that women and men from different families were together in sauna. It was considered as normal.

I was told that as late as after the WWII in towns there were public saunas where washing rooms were separate for men and women but the stove room - the sauna itself - was common. Only a thick rope was set to separate the men's end from woman's. But it changed soon so that both sexes had their own saunas (or hours for sauna if there was only one löyly-room).

I remember that when studying in Turku I was living in an apartment house where there was a public sauna. I visited there every Saturday. Men and women had different sauna hours. You could there hire an elderly woman to wash you from tip to toe. I did it every now and then. As a man I felt a little unsure when lying on back on the bench while she was washing my feet and belly - of course she did not touch me genitals. At the same time there were several men in the washing room so she felt safe - as well as me!

At the same sauna compartment there were private saunas available, too. Every private sauna had a washing lady of its own. They often asked me to come to the private, but as a poor student I saved my money, said thanks no and went to the public side. I now wonder whether it was a wise act or not... May be I missed something ;-)

Nowadays there are only in the spas public saunas where both sexes can have löyly together. And they are usually not Finnish saunas but steam rooms ("Turkish" bath and others).

Posted by: Allways naked in sauna | June 4, 2005 08:58 AM

Sorry, forgot to mention that my Turku studies happened in the beginning of nineteen sixties

Posted by: Allways naked in sauna | June 4, 2005 09:03 AM

"They often asked me to come to the private, but as a poor student I saved my money, said thanks no and went to the public side. I now wonder whether it was a wise act or not... May be I missed something ;-)"

Hmm, and what might that have been? The same scrubbing and shampoo in your eyes is what you get in private and public.

Posted by: A Finn | June 4, 2005 10:32 AM

Anger cools in Sauna and bitterness fades away.
Sauna is a poor man's pharmasy.
Just give me a Sauna bath and bottle of whiskey, then I will be happy
and many more sayings, but my dog barks and wants me to go out with her

Posted by: barking dog owner | June 4, 2005 06:13 PM

here are some more sayings from "Sauna - The Way to Health" by S.C. Olin
If Sauna, wishkey and tar won't help, death is certain.
Warmly pleasaant when your navel smokes.
You blush like the hind end of a man in the Sauna.
Back to the boards, said grandpa, when he fell off the platform.
Flames fly from the forge, people run there joyfully.

Posted by: Kirsti | June 4, 2005 06:47 PM

"It seemed to me living there the past 2 years that MOST Finns have their own sauna -- and many families have 2, one at home and one in the summer cottage."

Nowadays also single room studio apartments are usually equipped with a sauna, even if some space has to be sacrificed for it.

Posted by: | June 4, 2005 06:56 PM

It is true that sometimes young Finnish men like to show their Sauna-Sisu to foreigners. Sometimes it get's really silly, especially if the finnish machissimo has to be demonstarted to citizens of a certain western neighbor.... I remember one instance where the student organization of my school had invited a group of students from that western neighbor for a visit involving traditional student activities such as singing, eating fish, consuming generous quantities of Koskenkorva and Lapin Kulta and of course, taking saunas. There we were, a group of about 5 (swedish speaking) Finns and a few Swedes, sitting in the 100 C sauna. All would have been going well, if it wasn't for those Swedes insiting on telling us how their saunas (bastun) back home really are as hot as ours and what hot temperatures they had endured and so on and so forth. We liked these guys a lot, but it was a bit more talk than my very quiet friend to the left could take. So, very resolutely, without a word of warning, he stepped off the bench, down to the "kiuas", picked up two of the hot stones with his bare hands and proclaimed "they're still cool". Of course, he did have to be taken to the ER to have the burns treated, but I guess our guests had another story to take home...

Posted by: Sauna fairy | June 4, 2005 07:00 PM

The sauna you visited is one of the very few traditional public saunas left in Helsinki. As you write, it is the only one that is heated with wood.

Chassell, you should not take Mikko's comment as an offence. Unlike you, I did not detect an implication that American saunas would be dirty. Mikko was just stating the fact that Finns have more natural attitude to nudity than Americans.

Posted by: Larko | June 4, 2005 11:11 PM

A lot is already said here about Finnish sauna. But I made a small research with Google and got following results
1. sauna = 18 200 000 hits
2. sauna genuine = 172 000 hits
3. sauna Finnish = 211 000 hits
3. sauna Finnish genuine = 23 800 hits

Especially I recommend these links http://www.sauna.fi/englanti/englanti.html
http://www.geocities.com/ojoronen/sauna.htm
for everybody who wants to learn more or plans to build his own sauna.

It was nice to find out, that Americans have named certain saunaheater brand (=kiuas) "Sampo" and actual sauna brand called "Sisu"

Sampo was originally in our national epic Kalevala
http://virtual.finland.fi/netcomm/news/showarticle.asp?intNWSAID=27015
a magic device, which produced all good things to it's owner.
And "sisu" is a (praised) Finnish characteristic, that we do not quit our efforts, when we face the first difficulties. You can see sisu also in "löyly-competitions" :-)

Posted by: a Finn | June 5, 2005 03:33 AM

Tapio,

Tervetuloa Chicagon. Our sauna is always ready to serve. You may throw on as much water as you can stand, and drink as you wish. We turn the thermostat to the highest setting and there it stays. I would love to see one of those signs that warned against throwing water on the rocks. Ridiculous! How are you supposed to get good and hot? Our sauna was the first part of the house to be built, even before the kitchen

"Kun soivat kiukaan mustat urut, unohtuvat
arjen surut." This is posted on our sauna wall.

My father as a young man once told Russian prisoners of war to use a lot of hot water to warm the sauna and if it got too hot to use a lot of cold water. As he was walking home, heard them run from the sauna, yelling.

Posted by: Kulmala | June 5, 2005 03:53 AM

I went to my first big public sauna yesterday in Helsinki. I was with a bachelor party group and we all had alot of fun. All the natives were extremely friendly and welcoming to us English speakers.

Posted by: Phil | June 5, 2005 07:42 AM

TapioH,

I am a Finnish woman married to an American man -we used to live in Minneapolis, but moved down to Florida two years ago. I have always dreamed of building a sauna for me here, and now, we are finally building a house where we will also put in a sauna!

You are in luck, because most of the U.S. dealers who sell saunas are located in Minnesota -we are ordering ours from one in St. Paul, MN. Here are the names of three good sauna dealers:
1. Finn/Sisu Saunas, Ahvo P. Taipale, 1841 University Ave., St. Paul, MN 55117- (651) 645-2443
2. Airmist Sauna&Steam, Phil Kariniemi, 52 Hamel Road, Hamel, MN 55340 - (612) 478-2002
3. Poolside, 121 E. County Rd. C, St. Paul, MN 55117 - (651) 483-6600

Good luck -and welcome to our sauna when you visit Florida!

P.S. I find the phrase "taking a sauna" odd -I guess it makes sense to native English speakers because you also "take a shower/bath." However, the literal translation from Finnish is "I am going to the sauna."

Posted by: | June 5, 2005 10:47 AM

It seems one of the photo captions is pretty far off the mark: Harjun Sauna is clearly not the only woodburning sauna in Finland, I would estimate there are roughly a million woodburning saunas (out of 2,5 million total).

Posted by: | June 5, 2005 12:09 PM

"here are some more sayings from "Sauna - The Way to Health" by S.C. Olin
If Sauna, wishkey and tar won't help, death is certain.
Warmly pleasaant when your navel smokes.
You blush like the hind end of a man in the Sauna.
Back to the boards, said grandpa, when he fell off the platform.
Flames fly from the forge, people run there joyfully."

Actually the correct translation of the first saying is:
"If Sauna, Kossu(Koskenkorva) or tar won't help, death is certain."

Posted by: Maxi | June 5, 2005 12:29 PM

I've only heard the version "Jos sauna, viina ja terva ei auta, se on kuolemaksi" -> If sauna, booze and tar won't help, it's fatal.

Posted by: sj | June 5, 2005 01:57 PM

"Someone about the word sauna, swedes for example had them too, the word was translated to their own language, but the king there forbade them. Too relaxing, not good for warriors. Why there is no sauna left in Russia I dont know. But elsewhere in Europe there was them as well."

In fact, Russians have what they call banya, which is almost like Finnish sauna. Russian banya is not as popular in Russia as sauna is in Finland. Most of the banyas in Russia are in the countryside. The main difference is in that Russians use their banyas less often than Finns use their saunas. It is customary to heat the banya maybe once a week while staying at the summer cabin, whereas Finns heat their sauna practically every evening under similar conditions. Also, Russians usually don't throw water on the rocks, although it might not be forbidden like in many other countries. But a Russian banya looks exactly the same as a Finnish sauna and can be used in exactly the same way.

Markku

Posted by: Markku | June 5, 2005 02:46 PM

I look forward with eager anticipation to each one of the wonderful reports on Finland Diary. Thank you for sharing your experiences in this wonderful little country with us. As a child born to parents who were born and raised in Finland I remember sharing a sauna with my mother and father when we went to visit friends. It was a family experience treated with great respect and always a focal point of the evening spent with friends. I live in Los Angeles now and saunas are few and far apart but when I visit cousins in Finland no sooner have I put my suitcase down than I am told that the sauna has been warmed and is ready for me. I love it! Thanks again for the wonderful coverage of Finland.

Posted by: Mirja | June 5, 2005 04:03 PM

Help! Can someone provide me the name of this very special sauna in Helsinki?
One winter night in Helsinki in 1998, I ended up in a very big sauna, located in an old warehouse somewhere outside of the city. This building was situated in a very quite, open (industrial) area. It was a very big, rural place and to my memories it located as well a music recording studio in the basement. That evening of Mars or April 1998, a kind of new-age concert took place in the bar while at the same time a very weird DJ was playing some spacy music in a shill-out room, filled up with second-hand sofa's. Can someone provide me the name and address of this sauna? I would love to go there again, the next time I'm visiting Finland again.
Tnx in advance!

Posted by: zeppos | June 5, 2005 04:33 PM

To 'zeppos', that sauna you are reffering to was in 'lepakkoluola' in ruoholahti district of Helsinki.

There was sauna&music every weekend and it was a good sauna too.

And it was mixed sex, mostly quite yong people..

Well now this sauna is no more as Nokia bought the land and built an office building there.

Posted by: | June 5, 2005 04:58 PM

Zeppos: It does indeed sound like that place was Lepakko, which was unfortunately torn down in 1999. Just behind the building was a large cemetary and its had a huge Radio City logo on the roof.
The DJ you are referring to is probably DJ Tixa, who plays very strange music and has his Höyry klubi (Steam club) still going in Saunabar. The place is under renovation, but will open again sometime in the fall 2005. http://www.saunabar.fi/

Posted by: Jukka K. | June 5, 2005 08:03 PM

As a sidenote: the Estonians also are quite as much as sauna people as the Finns. Their speciality, especially on Saarenmaa, is the whisk made from juniper. I didn't believe it myself, but after trying found it quite agreeable.

Posted by: Hank W. | June 6, 2005 02:27 AM

Probably the oldest still working public sauna in Finland is the Rajaportin sauna, located in Tampere. This was founded 1906.
And it is, of course, wood heated.
www.rajaportinsauna.net

And, I was also wondering, like someone else here before, did you really not find anything to write about Tampere? E.g. the paintings of Hugo Simberg in Tampere Cathedral should be interesting...

Posted by: Timo | June 6, 2005 11:13 AM

Are there any penquins or polar bares in Finland?

Posted by: Ramon | June 6, 2005 11:46 AM

"Are there any penquins or polar bares in Finland?"

You can find penguins at the south pole (and some in South Africa etc.) and polar bears at the north pole, but not in Finland.

Posted by: | June 6, 2005 11:48 AM

>>You can find penguins at the south pole (and some in South Africa etc.) and polar bears at the north pole, but not in Finland.

Thanks!! I am school writing book report on Finland animals. I always heard penquins are found in finland igloos as pets? I must have heard wrong here in France. Are there any animals that are dangerous then in Finland? Do you live in igloos or is that wrong? What house to live in?

Posted by: Ramon | June 6, 2005 01:11 PM

"Are there any animals that are dangerous then in Finland? Do you live in igloos or is that wrong? What house to live in?"

Are you kidding?

If not, try Virtual Finland: http://virtual.finland.fi

Posted by: | June 6, 2005 02:04 PM

Don't feed the trolls. They've already eaten our penguins and polar bears and if you become too friendly with them, they'll stay here forever :-

Posted by: A Finn | June 6, 2005 04:10 PM

Cut Ramon a break. He's obviously a kid, and possibly not an English-first speaker.

Posted by: Kids not trolls | June 6, 2005 04:34 PM

Ramon,

There are no polar bears in Finland but there are bears; very dangerous animals if you happen to go near them during early summer when they are having baby bears, otherwise they are quite peaceful.

There isn't much information in English but you can go and see pictures in http://www.suurpedot.fi/
(Bear = karhu in Finnish, Wolf = susi, wolverine = ahma)

We live in about the same kind of houses as you do in France, though on average we have better heating systems.

Good luck to your assignment.

Posted by: | June 6, 2005 04:41 PM

And is it true, Ramon, that in France people do not wash exept once a year and then only their hands, and only apply more perfume? And in the houses there is no latrines but one bucket? Do you all live in a Gaul village as in Obelix and Asterix?

Yes, if this was silly about France - you now know what you asked was similar about Finland.

Posted by: Hank W. | June 6, 2005 04:51 PM

I would add to the "dangerous animals" list the moose and reindeer as well. They are not feral man-eating reindeer, but they tend to run on to the road. A collision with a moose or a reindeer is very serious - it is hundreds of kilos of solid material the car crashes into. So all tourists who say to me "I would want to see a moose" I answer to them, not when you are driving, because it might be the last thing you see. Many people are killed yearly in traffic colliding with a moose.

http://koti.mbnet.fi/kavpk/kuvat/kolari/hirvikolari.jpg
http://www.laplake.net/suomi/hirviko799.jpg

Posted by: Hank W. | June 6, 2005 05:03 PM

"Thanks!! I am school writing book report on Finland animals."

Kids might like this flash site:

http://www.projectfinland.org/

Posted by: | June 6, 2005 05:27 PM

Hei everyone!

I am loving reading the Finland diary. As an American of predominantly Finnish ancestry who is engaged to a man born in Finland (but raised in Sweden with Finnish parents) I am always seeking to learn more about the country of both of our roots.

Growing up we did not have a sauna. My father had a German father who did not consider sauna building a high priority, so he did not grow up with a sauna in his house and probably did not consider it a necessity of life. My mother always longed for a sauna in the house. We had some good Finnish friends in our village in western Wisconsin (land of the Swedes and home of the brave) who often called and invited us for sauna. "Sauna is hot" he would simply say, and we would come over. My maternal grandparents from Itasca County had their sauna in the basement. Most of my aunts and uncles had some kind of sauna--either a sauna house or a basement sauna. Mostly wood fired, not much of that electric stuff. Sauna became a big part of our visiting with our friends and relatives. When I was small my mother would take us little children in the sauna and we would sit in little metal or plastic tubs on the concrete floor and have our hair washed and body scrubbed down. We went into the sauna before it fully heated up, but sometimes by the time we finished it had gotten quite hot. I remember putting a wet washcloth over my face when the steam hit the rocks. Later, when I was older, I went with my sisters and girl cousins. After a marriage, the girl started going in with her husband. In Finland, I observed, it is mostly segregated by sex. All the women in together, regardless of age or marital status, and then all the men. As soon as I hit puberty I no longer went in with my mother or aunties. The only time this ever happened was when I visited a friend's grandmother in Watton, Michigan, and I was mildly shocked when grandmother Matilda "Matti" came in and had a sauna with us girls. It seems like the sauna traditions had changed in the U.S. in regards to mixed bathing.

I spent last Easter at my cousin Eeva's cabin on Oulujarvi. I thought I would feel mildly uncomfortable with the multi-generational bathing, but oddly enough, I didn't once I got in. Their comfort in their own nudity had a calming effect on me. They weren't sizing up or judging my body parts, so why should I worry? I sat and took in the steam, and listened to their Finnish chit-chat. "Are you uncomfortable with us talking in Finn?" Tarja inquired (her mother Eeva speaks no English). I replied in the negative. I felt like I was in my grandma's sauna and took a comfort in hearing the Finnish language spoken, a language I do not understand but have heard since birth.

How strange I felt at home in Finland, where everyone looked like my own relatives. When we landed in Oulu, I wiped away tears from my eyes. It felt as though I had arrived at some sort of holy land. Everywhere I went these strangers seemed intimately familiar, like friends or family I had just happened not to have met yet. I wanted to talk to them, but held myself back most of the time. In stores or restaurants, people naturally spoke Finnish with me and I was amazed there was a place I seemingly belonged, loquatious American that I am.

Posted by: Jenni_Amerikkalainen | June 6, 2005 05:27 PM

There is no mention of the health and beauty benefits of taking a sauna. Regular sauna is good for your skin. Keeps you younger looking. It's also good for sweating toxins from the body.

Posted by: Carol | June 6, 2005 08:55 PM

>>You can find penguins at the south pole (and some in South Africa etc.) and polar bears at the north pole, but not in Finland.

Thanks!! I am school writing book report on Finland animals. I always heard penquins are found in finland igloos as pets? I must have heard wrong here in France. Are there any animals that are dangerous then in Finland? Do you live in igloos or is that wrong? What house to live in?
------
People are quite serious here it seems and they answer wrong.
People going to see a polar bear:

http://www.sata.partio.fi/jaakarhu/


A Finnish polar bear:

http://www.hytti.uku.fi/~tpulliai/lappi/2003/02.html

Traditional housing in Lapland:
http://www.kotiposti.net/viherto/kuvat/Kota.jpg

Moose is the most dangerous animal. Cars hit them and lots of people die every year because of that. Moose is rather high so it smashes right through the windshield killing the people inside.
http://www.teuva.fi/koulut/komsi/hirvi350.jpg

Posted by: | June 7, 2005 05:33 AM

A collision with a moose or a reindeer is very serious
-
Reindeer is rather small. Not as tall as a moose so it is not nearly as dangerous. Reindeer should be left alone but to save peoples lives the moose really should be killed. Probably the only reason they exist is the hunters love of the hunt.

Posted by: | June 7, 2005 05:35 AM

"Moose really should be killed..." - What can you really say after something like that??

Posted by: Timo A | June 7, 2005 06:56 AM

""Moose really should be killed..." - What can you really say after something like that??"

Not all are nature lovers. Some put people first.
Seems some dare say it too:
http://www.theharryrowellfamily.org/hitleranimalactivist.htm

Posted by: | June 7, 2005 07:14 AM

"Moose really should be killed..."

That's ridiculous! Of course we have to keep their numbers at a tolerable level but to kill them all... I can't believe someone is saying that. Plus it's impossible. There would be new moose coming from Russia and Sweden every year.

Posted by: Huck Finn | June 7, 2005 07:34 AM

" I thought I would feel mildly uncomfortable with the multi-generational bathing, but oddly enough, I didn't once I got in."

One of the good sides of sauna is that people see human bodies in different sizes, shapes and ages. One knows how an old person looks like, and realizes that you youeself will some day look like that (if you live). For example I always laugh at silicon tits: How do they look like in a body that is 90 years old and everything is wrinkly and drawn towards earth. Are they still big round balloons?

Nice story Jenni, thank you.

Posted by: EP | June 7, 2005 08:07 AM

JULIE-
Conservative Republican, eh? Perhaps, other than making you fall in love with sauna, going to Finland might open your mind to how incredibly well a country with much more "liberal" values works. As you read in the travel blog, university students in Finland actually RECEIVE a stiped while attending university, and are not required to pay exorbitant tuition fees like US university students. It is then counterintuitive for you to admit that Finland seems like a great place- or that it could have one of the best higher educations systems in the world- when it operates its education on much more of a welfare state than you might prefer.

Granted, I grew up in an extremely diverse area of the United States, where it seems daunting to set up better social programs. Finland is a more homogenous country (ethnically, racially, culturally, religiously) than the United States, but I would challenge you to reason that what you have perceived to be such a wonderful place might be attributable to Finlands healthy "welfare state", large government, and government sponsored education and social programs. These programs help Finns achieve the success they have earned in the world (they are such a small country!! the size of the Washington DC metro area in population).

Posted by: lump lainen | June 7, 2005 08:24 AM

JULIE-
Conservative Republican, eh? Perhaps, other than making you fall in love with sauna, going to Finland might open your mind to how incredibly well a country with much more "liberal" values works. As you read in the travel blog, university students in Finland actually RECEIVE a stiped while attending university, and are not required to pay exorbitant tuition fees like US university students. It is then counterintuitive for you to admit that Finland seems like a great place- or that it could have one of the best higher educations systems in the world- when it operates its education on much more of a welfare state than you might prefer.

Granted, I grew up in an extremely diverse area of the United States, where it seems daunting to set up better social programs. Finland is a more homogenous country (ethnically, racially, culturally, religiously) than the United States, but I would challenge you to reason that what you have perceived to be such a wonderful place might be attributable to Finlands healthy "welfare state", large government, and government sponsored education and social programs. These programs help Finns achieve the success they have earned in the world (they are such a small country!! the size of the Washington DC metro area in population).

Posted by: lump lainen | June 7, 2005 08:25 AM

"large government, and government sponsored education and social programs. "

The money goes to the middle classes usually. Not to those most in need.

Posted by: | June 7, 2005 08:40 AM

>university students in Finland actually RECEIVE a stiped while attending university, and are not required to pay exorbitant tuition fees like US university students.

In America, PhD students do receive a stipend. That is about it, other than teaching fellowships available at masters levels. Undergrad students, unless they receive a grant or scholarship, are expected to pay for school themselves. Most students take out loans which can take years to pay back. But there are a lot of different programs available for various types of students. No doubt, univ. can be expensive.

There is an ethic here amongst many working and middle class families (especially ethnic ones I have found) that implies you make some sacrifices for your kids to put them through univ. so they can do as well or better than you did.

Posted by: | June 7, 2005 10:38 AM

Are these people for real? Man, I guess that's the life "living off the government."

~Triple E

Posted by: E. Ellis Elks | June 7, 2005 03:10 PM

This comments are hilarious, can't wait to take part in the competition of sauna endurance.

Posted by: IGC | June 7, 2005 03:41 PM

Thanks for info on finnish animals! I am finished with book report! Thanks!!! Why do people think the finns live in igloos and have penqins then? Is it because finland is not very important? It bothers you doesnt it?

I do not appreciate the french jokes Hank.

Posted by: | June 7, 2005 03:48 PM

"Why do people think the finns live in igloos and have penqins then?"

Because the level of education is very low in many countries and people simply don't know anything about foreign countries.

"It bothers you doesnt it?"

It's very irritating, yes, but mainly it's very embarrassing for those people who are so uneducated and ignorant.

Posted by: | June 7, 2005 04:09 PM

"I do not appreciate the french jokes Hank."

I do not appreciate living in an igloo with a penguin.

Posted by: Hank W. | June 7, 2005 05:22 PM

The people "living in igloos" would be Inuits a.k.a. the Eskimo; and only a certain group living on the ice for hunting the sealife. They wouldn't necessarily be living with their dogs either. As everyone knows the Inuit in question would be the ones inhabiting the area between North Canada and Greenland, and not ones inhabiting the tundra.

Now as a penguin, as said before , inhabits the antipodes and is native to Antarctica, South America and South Africa & some Pacific islands.

So someone combining the two really shows lack of any comprehension of geography.

Posted by: Hank W. | June 7, 2005 05:31 PM

"There is an ethic here amongst many working and middle class families (especially ethnic ones I have found) that implies you make some sacrifices for your kids to put them through univ. so they can do as well or better than you did."

Also the lower taxes mean you well can afford to that. The money in Finland does not just appear, it is paid by people.

"Why do people think the finns live in igloos and have penqins then? Is it because finland is not very important? It bothers you doesnt it?"

Nobody does. It is obvious to Finns the poster was Finnish.

"These programs help Finns achieve the success they have earned in the world (they are such a small country!! the size of the Washington DC metro area in population"

Check out the gross state product of dc and compare that to the Finnish one before you call Finland a success.

Posted by: | June 8, 2005 04:36 AM

"Why do people think the finns live in igloos and have penqins then?"

"Nobody does. It is obvious to Finns the poster was Finnish."

"So someone combining the two really shows lack of any comprehension of geography."

I've met a few not-so-geographically-educated foreigners who knew that Linux was born in Finland, and since the Linux's mascot is Tux the penguin, it's quite common cliche on the net to draw Tux in front of an igloo (sometimes frying windows logos over a camp fire). Maybe there really are some (kids) who get their false impressions from those pictures.

Posted by: | June 8, 2005 04:59 AM

Having read the diary I conclude that Finns pose global threat to world's stability. It's time for this "rarely noticed little country" to get into focus of international community, particularly US Department of State. They used to trade with Soviet block? This alone puts them on the axis of tyranny. We should also mention the lowest (!) in Europe level of private enterprise and the overwhelming total control of the Finnish socialistic state over every aspect of life of ordinary citizens. I believe Finnish people deserve living in liberty!

Posted by: Kilroy | June 8, 2005 05:01 AM

"Finnish socialistic state over every aspect of life of ordinary citizens. I believe Finnish people deserve living in liberty!"

Actually, Finland is a Nordic welfare state, just like the rest of Nordic countries. What comes to liberty, true freedom can be found only in Nordic countries. For example, USA is the worst non-democracy and police state in the western world (actually very close to the former Soviet Union in many ways). Maybe you should travel a bit around the world and see some other countries.

Posted by: | June 8, 2005 05:09 AM

"They used to trade with Soviet block?"

That's called capitalism. Business is business.

Posted by: | June 8, 2005 05:16 AM

"They used to trade with Soviet block? This alone puts them on the axis of tyranny."

Then just about every country in the world is on "the axis of tyranny", since they all traded with the former soviet union. Shows you lack of education if you make simple false connections like that like someone with a 5-year old's logic.

Posted by: | June 8, 2005 05:23 AM

"particularly US Department of State. They used to trade with Soviet block? This alone puts them on the axis of tyranny"

Scandinavian countries bought e.g. crude oil and natural gas from soviet union. Just like the US imports oil from Saudi Arabia and other tyrannies of the middle-east. Talk about american double standards...

Posted by: | June 8, 2005 05:30 AM

Come'on! Kilroy was joking. Or maybe pointing in a slightly crooked way at the current US regime's follies.

I tought it was funny!

Posted by: petteri | June 8, 2005 06:34 AM

"Come'on! Kilroy was joking. Or maybe pointing in a slightly crooked way at the current US regime's follies.

I tought it was funny!"

Are you absolutely sure? There are actually that kind of people in the US.

Posted by: | June 8, 2005 06:57 AM

CONSPIRACY EXPOSED!

It has come to my attention that the US Government entered a secret ally with the Finnish Government in the late 90's. The US Government has a devious plan to turn the US into a Nordic style welfare state. That means the end of the world as we know it! Southern Baptist Churches (Praise the Lord!) will be replaced by scientific universities, gun clubs and militias will be turned into day care centers run by women with the master's degree! Teaching creationism in schools will end and evolution will be taught instead! Saunas promoting ungodly naked liberal lifestyle will be built everywhere and baby boxes will be given out to encourage people to have premarital sex! Education and health care is going to be available for all, including the unsaved! And our glorious, righteous, all-knowing and omnipotent leader, Mr. "Second only to God" Bush, is going to be replaced by an unmarried single mother feminist woman(!) president! Nokia mobile phones are a satanic plot and they emit mind-control rays that turn people into liberal homosexuals and feminists who are willing to pay taxes! Yes, they do! And, that's not all folks, when the US Government paid the Finnish Government for planning up everything, they found out that one of the best ways to speed up the process is to relocate all God Fearing Free Americans in Texas, Bible Belt and Southern States (God bless them!) to outer Mongolia and China and give those states to the Chinese! Defend the Freedom and Liberty! Act NOW before it's too late, and trust no-one! Don't forget to wear your tinfoil hats so that the mind control rays from Nokia mobile phones and Black Helicopters can't reach your brain! God Bless America!

Posted by: American Patriot | June 8, 2005 08:49 AM

Does that mean that Bush will then be president of Mongolia?

Posted by: A Finn | June 8, 2005 08:57 AM

No. But if I am reading it right, I think it means Jorma is a gay feminist?

Posted by: | June 8, 2005 12:14 PM

"But if I am reading it right, I think it means Jorma is a gay feminist?"

huh??? I must have been reading it wrong. I thought he meant an American version of T. Halonen.

Very funny! :-) Nice to see that at least some Americans have bother to read the articles in Finland Diary and it's not just us Finns chatting. :) But I was half-expecting a U.F.O. to save the Texans...

Posted by: | June 8, 2005 02:21 PM

Sauna is a nice topic to talk about, since it is politically neutral (keeps the atmosphere nice and friendly ^^ ). Seems that in these comments a lot of them were made by Finns and quite often includes just nosy (how one writes that, a nose -> ´nosey´?!?) remarks about small things (and the tone of the comments are sometimes too serious conserning the topic). I would really like to see even more Americans post their feelings raised by this blog (if it even did raise any) and possible questions too. I think we like it when someone takes interest of our nation and I believe people are more than willing to give their opinnions about your questions (please other Finns, back me up or I have to aswer to all of them from now on using different names to validate my comment here =) ).

And please, even though there are issues about distribution of welfare and so on, do not use this commentarea to glorifyi (and again, not sure how to write that word..) your own nation compared to the other (goes both ways / anonymity is a bitch!), but like I read it earlier (writen by Julie):

"But I'm so tired of seeing (some of) my fellow Americans [and Finns, added by Tomma] just using these posts as opportunities to criticize another culture. Why not just sideline the judgements for a while and take advantage of the opportunity to learn about something new?".

I can get behind that! Travel people more and you learn more about yourself!

Posted by: Tomma (Finnish) | June 9, 2005 05:34 PM

And one thing, a galactical thanks to Robert G. Kaiser and Lucian Perkins for making this blog about their joyrney. It is nice to have an outsiders-point-of-view of Finland, even though it is a rather short journey. Well, it is a good thing that it is a short one, propably after a couple of month everything wuold have been explored and ´blogged´. Now it seems like there is still lot to venture here ;)

Posted by: Tomma (Finnish) | June 9, 2005 05:41 PM

To Tomma:

Unpolitical topic doesn´t mean much. Check out the babydiaper discussion :D

Posted by: Jekka | June 9, 2005 07:18 PM

A hint: most hotels in Finland have sauna which the customers can use.

Posted by: Paula | June 11, 2005 04:55 PM

Public sauna in the States - Growing up in Ashtabula we used to sauna at public sauna's in the Historic Harbor area. (Finns worked the docks) Joseph Ave Sauna closed in the past couple years. In it's day a spotless clean facility, public room and smaller private "Family Sauna" rooms. All saunas' feed heat off a central transfer duct work. Working the water level sprayed water down below in the furnace/heater room providing a slowly rising "löyly" ... each sauna room public and private had its own control of the heat - built in the 30's I believe should be declared a Historic Structure and preserved before it is razed

Posted by: Gene | July 18, 2005 12:08 PM

Recently our secret police SUPO has discoved that Estonia goverment has been in contact with the person who was responsible of the Myyrmann bombing in Helsinki and that it has also been building VMD and is ready to strike Finland in a half hour notice. in this picture you can see the facilities where this evil act has been under work : http://www.tallinna.net/saarenmaa.htm . Also we have discovered that mobile biological factories are being moved around the Estonian mainland, with this kind of trucks: http://www.lkw-walter.com/fi/rekka.aspx this has been done to avoid finnish VMD team which is searching these weapons of mass destruction from Estonia. To defend its freedom and people Finland must act now and strike agains evil tyrannies and the axis of evil (which means the baltic states all together). Therefore we give an ultimatum to Estonia leaders to leave their country in 24 hours or we will start operation "Estonian Freedom" and move in with 100 000 men strong army, consisting mainly jaeger and armoured divisions and some flight squadrons. To free the people of Estonia we call all of the freedom loving nations to join us in our coalition of will. UN is an old and useless organization and Estonia dictators are just laughing at their faces. Make no mistake, we will act. You are either with us or agains us.
We are on a mission from God. God save Finland.

;)

Posted by: This is for real! | July 19, 2005 07:54 AM

Sauna's have been important to fins for many years. I live sauna's, they are totally different from a steam room. a sauna gives off dry heat and a steam room .. well .. you can see the steam (sauna's are much much much more better) In a sauna i get relaxed. I usually take one when ever i have to shower. I'm 15 years old and I love sauna's since i was a baby. I'm so use to them. With my dad and my friend. we stay in the sauna even when it is 100 degrees celsious.. sauna's are best when you are by a lake. i get so hott then when i jump in the lake, you hear me suzzle. (you should try it) it feels nice, It also feels nice when you go in the sauna nacked. You know, the finnish way.
I LOVE SAUNA'S AND SAUNA'S LOVE ME!

Posted by: | August 3, 2005 08:15 PM

http://wwwi4.ymparisto.fi/i4/fin/sst/2005/sst_lake_05.html
How warm the lakes are ?
See diagram on link. (Anyone visiting Finland can see the best time to visit from it.)

Posted by: | August 19, 2005 06:41 AM

Did you know, that theres about 2,5-3,0 million saunas in finland? and theres 5 million of us :). Pleas, correct me guys, with those numbers. Abotu sauna: Think it like this: You and your employer go to sauna. Soon you chat with him just liek you would chat to your fellow worksman :) I'm glad to hear that you guys behind the atlantic can understand our english. Nothing else, over. Try sauna guys :)

Posted by: Erkki Luomi, 13 years | August 21, 2005 12:17 PM

I recently migrated back to Finland from USA (less than a week ago) after living there for almost half of my life (14 of 31 years). I´ve yet to take a sauna, but I wanted to start with a "real one" at my friend´s summer cottage (next to a lake, wood burning, and with a grill) instead of one in apartment building.

I´m truly happy to be back here in Finland.

Posted by: Jani | September 12, 2005 10:38 AM

I recently migrated back to Finland from USA (less than a week ago) after living there for almost half of my life (14 of 31 years). I´ve yet to take a sauna, but I wanted to start with a "real one" at my friend´s summer cottage (next to a lake, wood burning, and with a grill) instead of one in apartment building.

I´m truly happy to be back here in Finland.

Posted by: Jani | September 12, 2005 10:38 AM

How dare you americans copy our holy sauna, and then ruin it? "Dont throw water to rocks, whine whine whine". I know, you must take parts of other cultures, because, your ancesters was mostly europeans! Remember it! And nwo you will tkae me to court, and make me pay few million bucks. Hm. And guys, your goverment handlend this chaos made my Katrina very well! Kepp goin! how cant the richest country of the world even protect their own citizens!

Posted by: Finn | September 12, 2005 12:31 PM

Some corrections: "this chaos made By katrina" "and NOW you will TAKE me..." Sorry for my bad english!

Posted by: Finn | September 12, 2005 12:33 PM

Yes, this good sauna, this story was been located on http://news.crime.su/

Posted by: | September 26, 2005 07:20 AM

General information about sauna can be found here.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sauna

"generally 70-90 degrees Celsius, but can vary from 60 to 120 degrees" sounds kind of weird, though. I've never been in sauna, which was less than 80 Celsius hot.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 4, 2005 01:00 PM

Got a story or article about Saunas?

I love to collect Sauna Stories!

Submit your Sauna Stories and Articles


Sauna Guy

Posted by: Sauna Article Guy | November 3, 2005 11:58 AM

this is one weird site

Posted by: bob | November 25, 2005 09:59 AM

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