Sep 11, 2011

KuosiKioski Inspiration: The Sauna

The word sauna is an ancient Finnish word referring to the traditional Finnish bath where water is thrown over the hot stones (kiuas) to produce steam and to give a sensation of increased heat (löyly).

The sauna is a place to cleanse the mind, rejuvenate and refresh the spirit. For the Finns the Sauna is the most sacred place after the church. There still exists an old saying, "saunassa ollaan kuin kirkossa," – one should be(have) in the sauna as in church. The lighting in a sauna is dim and most Finns prefer to sit in the sauna in silence, relaxing.

There is still many beliefs and charms that are connected to sauna. For example Saunatonttu, literally translated the sauna elf, is believed to live in the sauna. Tonttu is always treated with respect because otherwise he might cause some trouble for people. The sauna is also thought of as a healing refreshment. The old saying goes: "Jos ei viina, terva tai sauna auta, tauti on kuolemaksi." -"If booze, tar, or the sauna won't help, the illness is fatal."

Old Finnish folk poems used to be spoken out loud in Sauna. Here is one of them, a greeting to löyly.
Terve löyly, terve lämmin,
terve kiehuva kivonen,
puun löyly, häkärän lämmin,
kiven kiukku-hengelisen!
Lähe nyt pois jo hiien hönkä,
himmene paha häkärä,
syömästä, kaluamasta,
tämän ihmisen ihosta,
tämän pojan polven päästä! 

 Sauna benches.
Enamel cups.
Kiuas and Löyly.

A metal woodstove.
A traditional Finnish shampoo that brings up memories from my childhood.
Dim light.
Mirror mirror on the wall...

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