Sunday Special – Finland’s Saunas


‘What an odd post to showcase on the Sunday Special?’ you may be asking. Well it is an integral part of the Finnish culture. Also, you may be invited to experience this steamy little room on travels to Finland. Finally, I am of Finnish descent. In fact, I am a first generation Canadian as my parents were born and raised in Finland. They eventually immigrated to Northwestern Ontario where I was raised in one of the largest Finn populations outside of Finland.  I grew up with a sauna (pronounced “sow-nah”) in our home and miss having the accessibility to one here Vancouver.

The use of this type of bath in Finland goes back for centuries. Historically it was not only a place to bathe but also to prepare foods, childbearing and to treat illnesses.  These days a sauna’s purpose is aligned more with relaxation and cleansing oneself yet still a deeply ingrained part of the culture, history and mindset of the Finns. It was and still is a place that makes a home and is to be treated with respect. Using a sauna is not an occasional occurrence. It is something that  is used several times a week. When I visit my parents it the first thing I do!  Sitting in a hot room pouring water onto heated rocks is only part of the sauna ritual.   Birch branches gently slapped on one’s skin is an invigorating treat. Once the heat gets a bit to much it is time to cool down by jumping into a nearby lake, rolling in some snow, or plunging oneself in a hole cut into a frozen lake. The contrast is surprisingly refreshing. In modern times and urban areas taking a cool shower is a reasonable substitute. In fact, I myself have never jumped into a snowbank or dunked myself into a hole in a frozen lake after a sauna. But I would should the opportunity present itself.  After this startling contrast you head back in for some more heat and repeat the whole process. Should you find yourself in Finland make certain you take part in this very important part of Finn culture.

finnish_smoke_sauna

A smoke sauna (wood-fired) – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned by Teemu Markkanen By Teemu Markkanen ((WT-shared) TeeMa) [CC BY-SA 1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

highgrove_sauna

A modern (electric) sauna – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned by Todtanis By Todtanis (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday Special – Bali, Indonesia


The fall weather continues its descent here in Western Canada. Although this part of the country does not experience the frigid cold weather associated with Canada we do get dampness to our bones from the rain that accompanies this season. The yearly tradition of folks discussing getaways to warmer locales continues. With this tradition at heart, today will be another warm destination.

The island province of Bali, Indonesia is located east of Java. Easily known to many as a sun destination,  the Island of the Gods has much more to offer. The southern region of Bali is among the most visited for these lush warm beaches yet the north also offers beaches – black sand beaches. The south also is popular with surfers and those enjoying an active night life. At the centre of the island is the city of Ubud. It is known as a cultural centre and offers much to see and do. The area offers popular cycling paths, beautiful trekking opportunities, historic Hindu temples, a plethora of colourful Balinese cultural performances, tasty cooking classes and more. Head to the east to visit Mount Agung, a stunning volcano with strong meaning to the island’s inhabitants. It seems to me that the small island of Bali has much to offer!

foods_served_at_the_edge_of_bali_book_launch_28805606648329

Balinese Food – Photo Credit via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned by Ubud Writers Festival

By Ubud Writers Festival [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

bali-danse_0707a

Balinese Dancer – Photo Credit via Wikimedia Commons – taken and owned by Yves Picq

By Yves Picq http://veton.picq.fr (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

denpasar_banner

Sanur Beach, Bali – Photo Credit via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned by Inkey

By Sanur_Beach_Panorama_Hariadhi.jpg: Hariadhi derivative work: Inkey [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons