A Brief History
Although the Roman baths, Turkish baths, Russian baths are all somewhat similar to the Finnish Sauna it is generally accepted that the home of the sauna is Finland, and traditions that go back many hundreds of years are justification for this belief.
The sauna - Finland's great contribution to the world of good health; and in Finland itself there are millions of Finns enjoying a habit which is now becoming popular throughout the world.
"Sauna" is a Finnish word meaning a wood lined room, heated with a stove containing stones on which water is thrown to create "Loyly". This word is not translated in any other language as it is the special name given by the Finns and it applies only when used in connection with a genuine Finnish Sauna.
In fact even the word "Sauna" is many times wrongly applied and misused, and it should only be used when referring to the Finnish equipment, which produces both dry heat and loyly.
It is not by chance that the Finns are people with a high average age, they owe this to living a sound way of life, and the Finnish Sauna is one of these sound ways.
To their ancestors it offered personal hygiene and a way to help live through the hardships of winter, and so this taking a bath, has become the modern Sauna, with a modern style stove, that can be used in the city or country without smoke or inconvenience.
Five million Finns can't be wrong and between them they share a million Saunas.
However the Sauna now has a tradition of characteristics that should be adhered to, and first is the fact it must be built of proper wood and in a correct manner, that the ventilation provide fresh air, and that it should heat the body with a glow from the wood and not the areas of hot and cold.
A Visit to the sauna is much more than just sweating in a hot room. It is a way of life, cultural activity, and a physical and mental renewal.
For two thousand years it has been used and in 1544 Michael Agricola's first Finnish Prayer Book recommended the year round use of the sauna.
The usual early heating was a log fire, under a pile of stones, and with-out a chimney the smoke circulated around the room, this early Smoke Sauna developed into heat created by prefabricated stoves burning wood, oil or gas and later by electricity which has developed for urban use, and has without doubt been the major breakthrough leading to the popularity of Sauna abroad.