A Christmas Sauna Finnish Style…..
The Finnish approach to Sauna bathing traditions and rituals during the festive season has a long and culturally significant importance, as the researcher Juha Nirkko from the Finnish Literature Society has documented.
Traditionally, time was set aside on Christmas Eve for family and friends to gather and spend time indulging in sauna bathing rituals. Nirkko writes that historically, the preferred bathing time was the afternoon to allow time during the evening for the spirit world to take their place in the cabin.
Today, Christmas Eve bathing traditions are a continued practice with the focus remaining firmly on the living, taking time for reflection and contemplation, enjoyment and cleansing before the festivities begin with renewed abandon. The process is slow, beginning with preparations for the heating of the sauna, through to the final cabin cooling stage. It is very much a social affair with the cold Finnish winter providing the perfect natural landscape for icy dips and snowy cooling in between hot sauna sessions.
Whist here in the UK the likelihood of a white Christmas might prevent us from fully experiencing a traditional Finnish style sauna, the idea of taking time out on Christmas Eve to be with friends and family inside a warm and inviting sauna cabin is very much top of list this year. Here are some top tips for creating the perfect Christmas sauna experience:
- Make it social and make it an event, taking the afternoon through to evening to spend time relaxing, talking and enjoying time with invited friends and family.
- Have plenty of large thick towels, fluffy robes and spare flip flops for additional eager guests.
- Heat the sauna well in advance and ensure the there is plenty of water on hand for raponsing regularly.
- Herbs such as Rosemary, Sage and Thyme and essential oils of Frankincense, Cedarwood and Sandalwood can be used to fragrance the cabin with seasonal and uplifting scents.
- Prepare light and delicious snacks accompanied by non alcoholic drinks to keep everyone fed and happy during the afternoon. Try hot pear or apple juice warmed with cinnamon, lemon, ginger and clove for a festive but non tipsy tipple or hot chocolate and marshmallows for the younger family members.
- Relaxation space is a must, make sure there are plenty of seats, benches and cushions for everyone to rest and relax on.
- Finally, stock up with plenty of candles and pick out a suitably laid back festive playlist.
A Christmas Eve Sauna is the perfect way to unwind and take stock before the festivities commence. Personally, I’m secretly hoping for an icy if not white Christmas for that authentic hint of the Finnish cool!
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