Sauna Superstition

by admin on January 29, 2011

Snagged this from wikipedia, thought it was both interesting and indeed a little bizarre:

In Finland, Estonia and Latvia as well in Russia, the sauna is an ancient custom. It used to be a holy place, a place where women gave birth, and where the bodies of the dead were washed. There were also many beliefs and charms that were connected to sauna. It was, among other things, a place for worshiping the dead – it was thought of as such a wonderful place that even the dead would surely like to return to it. Curing diseases and casting love spells could also happen in the sauna. As in many other cultures, fire was seen as a gift from heaven in Finland, and the hearth and the sauna oven were its altars. […]

There still exists an old saying, “saunassa ollaan kuin kirkossa,” – you should sit in the sauna as in a church.

Saunatonttu, literally translated the sauna elf, is a little gnome that was believed to live in the sauna. He was always treated with respect, otherwise he might cause much trouble for people. It was customary to warm up the sauna just for the gnome every now and then, or to leave some food outside for him. […] The Russian banya has an entirely identical character called a bannik.

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