What are some unspoken rules in Norway
Sauna kings for Scandinavia- How do you behave where? -
Going to the sauna could be so easy - if it weren't for the unspoken laws that make it really complicated. Even the different Scandinavian countries have different rules that I am telling you today.
Photo: Aurelie Luylier // CC0 1.0
Sauna in Sweden
Guess where the most saunas are in Sweden! In Tornedalen, of course, where the Finnish minority lives. But otherwise it is quite common for Swedes to have a sauna (in Swedish: Bastu - bathing room) in their private home. In holiday complexes, hotels and campsites (yes, they even exist there!), The saunas are often free of charge for guests.
Chatting is expressly allowed in the Swedish sauna! Anyone who wants to make social contacts or negotiate a professional business goes here. Yes, honestly! You sweat sometimes naked and sometimes with a towel - but always without clothing! And strictly separated according to sex. It is usually common to have a sauna together with your own family. Therefore, as a holidaymaker, you should always look at what time of day and who is desired in the sauna. By the way, it can get really crowded! Up to 50 people fit in a Swedish sauna - and the space is used!
After taking a sauna, Swedes jump into the sea, lake or river - depending on what is in front of their own sauna. And then? Then they step into a wooden barrel that is filled with water at around 45 degrees Celsius. They want to toughen their immune system particularly hard by switching quickly from hot and cold. If you are not used to taking a sauna, you should be careful with it - this method can have a big impact on the circulatory system.
My tip: At Ribersborgs Kallbadhus in Malmö you can enjoy the wonderful view of the Öresund, the Öresund Bridge and of course the capital of the neighboring country Copenhagen directly from the sauna.
Photo: Kateryna Petrova // CC0 1.0
Sauna in Finland
Did you know that sauna is the only Finnish word that has been incorporated into other languages internationally? Rightly so, I think, after all, the sauna is part of their culture for the Finns and regular sauna visits are a must. The Finns even take their little babies with them to the sauna.
Whether in the one-room apartment, on the boat or in the parliament in Helsinki - it is estimated that there are two to three million saunas in Finland and that with only 5.5 million inhabitants. Just a few decades ago, women even had their children in the sauna and the dead were washed for the dead there.
Anyone who enters a sauna in Finland that is already occupied by people should make an infusion straight away. The rising steam from the "Löyly", as the infusion is called in Finnish, replaces the heat that has escaped through the open door.
In Finland, by the way, it is totally unusual for scented oils to be added to the infusion water. Instead, the Finns use birch twigs (called "Vasta" or "Vihta" depending on the region) and gently hit their skin with them during the sauna session. Sounds brutal, but it has a massage effect. And smells good too.
What I'm sure you will be interested in: Finns sweat completely free of textiles - they don't even need a towel to go to the sauna. And if you don't just go to the sauna with your own family, then women and men sauna separately in Finland too.
And what do the Finns do after the sauna? Then they prefer to jump straight into the (icy) water. Except in the hipster district of Kallio in Helsinki, where people just cool off on the street.
Incidentally, the Finns not only like to drink the beer that the men are holding in their hands in the picture above, but also IN the sauna. Who can do it ...
Up until 2010, taking a sauna was a sporting discipline in Finland. I also took part once - but only as a spectator. But then there was a fatal accident: The finalist of the “Sauna World Championship” tried to survive his stay at 110 degrees better with painkillers. The competition has been discontinued since then.
Maybe you won't believe me now, but that was by no means all the curiosities that the Finns have to offer when it comes to saunas. By far the weirdest invention: the sauna sausage, in Finnish saunamakkara! These are sausages that are wrapped in aluminum foil on the sauna heater. When you are done with your sauna, they are done and their scent spreads throughout the sauna.
And one last tip: If a Finn invites you to his sauna, then you should definitely accept the invitation - anything else would be very impolite. You don't have to worry that you won't last long enough. In Finland there are neither hourglasses nor any rules about this. The main thing is that it's fun and that you work up a sweat.
Photo: Tapani Hellman // CC0 1.0
Sauna in Norway
In Norway, saunas are generally not as common as one might think. They are also much smaller than in Sweden, for example, and usually only have space for up to five people. They are called something like “badstue” or “badstu” in Swedish - easy to remember, right?
Even in the Middle Ages there were saunas everywhere in Norway, after all, people wanted to protect themselves from the cold and get their immune systems going. Later, however, the church advocated a nationwide ban, after all men and women went to the sauna together in Norway - and of course that was not possible. As a result, there was a certain lull in sauna in Norway from the 16th century. The saunas were converted into "tørkehus", that is, houses in which grain was dried. It is thanks to the Finnish immigrants in the 17th century that the sauna became more popular again, at least in the north and east of Norway. To this day, most of the saunas are there, but still not nearly as many as in Finland.
In Norway, too, saunas are completely unclothed and gender-specific, with the exception of small children up to seven years of age.
My personal insider tip: the sauna on the Hurtigruten ships. Here you can sweat with a view of the fjord.
Sauna in Denmark
And what does the sauna license say for Denmark? Well, in Denmark, having a sauna is a strict thing: although it is absolutely okay to jump into the sea naked on almost every beach, swimming trunks are compulsory in the sauna. If you now think that the saunas are mixed for it: because of! Most of the time, saunas are taken separately and there are no large sauna areas. Oh yes, and by the way, infusions and towels are not known in Denmark.
Photo: Anna-Karin Pantzar // CC0 1.0
And what about you
Have you ever had an embarrassing experience because you didn't know the sauna rules? Then always put it in the comments - we want to laugh along!
Do you want to read more?
Here you can find more curiosities from the north:
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