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The World’s Hottest Party

Last weekend when the temperature soared to +2°C, we had a family outing to a nature reserve called Hellasgården. It’s a beautiful place with lots of activities and with a thermos filled with hot chocolate handy, how could it not be great? Beside the lake there is a public sauna that was in full swing. This meant, dear friends, that unfortunately I got to see more of Sweden then I bargained for. A lot more.

Let me warn you now, if you are bound for Scandinavia then there is a risk you might be invited into a small room, heated to almost 100°C and then asked to take your clothes off. Welcome to the world’s hottest party.

Top 10 tips on how to survive in a sauna:

First appearing in Finland in the 1800s saunas, were an instant hit with our northern friends and it’s a trend that never seemed to go out of Scandinavian fashion. No cabin in Denmark is complete without one, there’s something called a Swedish Sauna Academy, and the Russians have been known to build them in their battleships. But the blue ribbon goes to the Finns – where there are more sauna’s than cars and on UN international peace-keeping missions, the Finnish military build saunas in their permanent camps, alongside their defences. For those of you travelling north, please follow this EU approved 10-point emergency plan for surviving your first sauna party:

  1. Take all your clothes off. Feel the freedom and joy of issue-based conversations with your Nordic hosts as you stand there with your bits out.
  2. Take a shower. It is considered good sauna etiquette to be clean before you begin. Everyone needs etiquette at this point – you are nude.
  3. Enter the sauna and try not to pass out on your way in – this is a real rookie mistake. Fortunately, you are allowed to take a towel in – this will save your butt from burning off when you sit down.
  4. Stay inside for as long as you can bare.
  5. When you can’t take any more, the Swedish Sauna Academy advises the cool-down methods of ‘jumping into a lake, or rolling in the snow’. Don’t stay in for too long though, as you will die.
  6. Upon entering the sauna again, you may be handed a birch branch. Dip the birch into water and then beat the devil out of yourself with it. This encourages circulation, amongst other things.
  7. If you can still breathe, increase the humidity by throwing water on the stones.
  8. Once you experience near death hallucinations, walk away from the white light and exit the sauna. Once again ‘refresh’ yourself with a dip in the nearby frozen lake and repeat the fun all over again.
  9. The final step is to shower again, put your clothes back on and ring home to tell everyone you survived.
  10. Warm up with a nip of vodka, you’ve sure earned it. And another one, perhaps.
What’s you’re take on saunaing? stark raving mad or refreshing nudal joy?

[Photos courtesy of Helena Wahlman/, ]

19 Comments Post a comment
  1. Kiwi #

    I love the sauna but I don’t think my local gym would take too kindly to me disrobing, nor would anyone else for that matter. And I haven’t died yet, so that’s a bonus.

    March 8, 2012
    • Oh come on, Year of the Dragon, give it go… No really, I agree a robe is a good thing! Glad you haven’t died yet..

      March 8, 2012
  2. Sam #

    ThInk I’ll keep my ultra-saggy clothes on. Thanks for the offer though!

    March 8, 2012
  3. Before I lived in Taiwan for 2 years, this sauna/spa thing was weird to me. But then I went often to them in Taiwan, and it’s really relaxing!!!! I don’t know about beating myself with a birch branch tho…or rolling around in the snow ;). There are Korean spas here in US that do the nudity thing. It’s weird here tho.

    March 8, 2012
    • I’m with you, sauna’s a relaxing but I can skip the birch and and snow…

      March 8, 2012
  4. Amy Loves lou lou loves...? #

    “Don’t stay in for too long though, or you will die” I can really see the relaxing perspective shining through!

    March 8, 2012
  5. Happy Friday! When you get a moment, please stop by my blog and pick up your award! 🙂

    March 10, 2012
  6. This sounds incredible – I must visit!

    March 11, 2012
  7. Kim Talks Books #

    When I lived in Richmond, Virginia, I went to a gym with a sauna and disrobed–heck, it’s what I did here in Sweden. People yelled at me. Americans are weird about getting naked together unless it’s for the purpose of group sex, apparently…

    March 12, 2012
  8. I’ve heard a lot of stories about saunas in Sweden but haven’t yet experienced one, not sure how I will handle it- talk about out of my comfort zone!

    March 22, 2012
    • May the force be with you – I actually don’t mind them but I do keep my clothes on!

      March 22, 2012
  9. Youma #

    I wouldn’t recommend you to assume every sauna in sweden is a free-swinging establishment, in most places the temperature is 60-70°C and the towel stays on! 🙂

    March 29, 2012
  10. I thought the whole getting nude in a sauna thing would be strange, and it is a little bit. But then I went to Korea once and went into a locker room at a health club. They really should warn tourists that old people stretch in the strangest squatting positions fully nude. I gotta give it to them though, those old dudes were so flexible, their skin could almost touch the ground.

    November 26, 2012
    • HA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I like that they would warn the tourists beforehand!!!

      November 26, 2012

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