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:
- 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.
- Take a shower. It is considered good sauna etiquette to be clean before you begin. Everyone needs etiquette at this point – you are nude.
- 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.
- Stay inside for as long as you can bare.
- 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.
- 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.
- If you can still breathe, increase the humidity by throwing water on the stones.
- 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.
- The final step is to shower again, put your clothes back on and ring home to tell everyone you survived.
- Warm up with a nip of vodka, you’ve sure earned it. And another one, perhaps.
[Photos courtesy of Helena Wahlman/imagebank.sweden.se, http://www.sxc.hu ]
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.
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..
ThInk I’ll keep my ultra-saggy clothes on. Thanks for the offer though!
I think that’s best for everyone.
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.
I’m with you, sauna’s a relaxing but I can skip the birch and and snow…
“Don’t stay in for too long though, or you will die” I can really see the relaxing perspective shining through!
Just the serenity! Hmmm
Happy Friday! When you get a moment, please stop by my blog and pick up your award! 🙂
This sounds incredible – I must visit!
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…
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!
May the force be with you – I actually don’t mind them but I do keep my clothes on!
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! 🙂
Good to know!
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.
HA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I like that they would warn the tourists beforehand!!!