The Finnish sauna experience, often coupled with ”avantouinti” or ice swimming, is a cultural tradition deeply rooted in Finnish society. Saunas play a significant role in Finnish culture, and they are not just places to relax and unwind but also spaces for socializing and promoting well-being.
Finnish Sauna Experience:
Sauna etiquette is an essential aspect of the experience. It’s customary to enter the sauna completely nude, although wearing a towel is acceptable for modesty. Traditional Finnish saunas are usually heated to high temperatures (80-100°C or 176-212°F). Water is poured on the heated sauna stones, producing steam known as ”löyly.” The experience of löyly is considered therapeutic, and it’s common for people to gently beat themselves with birch branches, which is believed to improve circulation and cleanse the skin. After spending some time in the sauna, it’s customary to cool off. Traditionally, this involves jumping into a lake or rolling in the snow, depending on the season.
Avantouinti (Ice Swimming):
Avantouinti refers to the practice of swimming in a hole cut into the ice of a frozen lake or sea. It is a popular winter activity in Finland and is believed to have health benefits. Participants first warm up in the sauna to raise their body temperature. They then venture outside to the frozen water and immerse themselves in the icy hole. After a brief swim, participants return to the sauna to warm up again. Ice swimming is thought to have various health benefits, such as boosting the immune system, improving circulation, and promoting a sense of well-being. The practice is often a social activity, with organized events and clubs for enthusiasts, adding to the enjoyment and shared experience.