Sauna Etiquette in Sweden
Among the Swedish people, sauna sessions are a very vital part of their staying healthy. This is even more evident from how much the sauna health benefits are treated with so much seriousness in Sweden. Needless to say, sauna experiences are a norm with the Swedish people, including what they do or do not do in various sauna settings. This can be a lot different for visitors, though. There is so much to think about considering all that you read about online regarding the Swedish saunas. You are not sure if you will have to go through the birch leaves thing, or if you have to dress up or have your swimwear on, or generally what to do around the sauna users, bearing in mind you are new under every circumstance. Below are the guidelines to use so as to know what to do and what never to do while relaxing away in a Swedish sauna.
What To Know About Swedish Sauna Sessions
In Sweden, using the sauna is the norm. But what is more important is to observe your context at that point in time. Swedish sauna styles range from the regulated Swedish massage sessions to the open-minded sauna sessions in the lakeside points or the mountain ski resorts, to the common drunken Swedish sauna sessions. Depending on where you find yourself at, there are different guidelines to be taken. However, not to worry, with the high-end sessions of the Swedish sauna massages, you will often find rules and regulations notice upon entry that will determine the way you carry yourself therein. The only basic rule every avid user of saunas in Sweden will tell you is that nudity is a norm in Sweden.
The Dos and Don’ts in Swedish Saunas
- Always take a shower or a swim before entering the sauna. Generally, this is meant to maintain cleanliness and hygiene within the sauna. It goes without saying that you cannot walk into the sauna while all dusty and dirty and sit with people who are there to relax and unwind; it will definitely make them uncomfortable. If you have no access to a shower or a swimming pool, it is still okay to take a dive in the sea or lake nearby.
- In every Swedish sauna, always carry a towel with you. This is regardless of whether you will use it or not, and it more in the case of not knowing what you are walking into. If you walked into a sauna and everyone is wrapped up in a towel, good for you; use it. But if you walked in and everyone is naked or semi-naked, use your towel to sit on. After a sweaty sauna session, expect your butt to leave a wet impression on the bench; and this can get other sauna users very uncomfortable.
- Do not go asking for birch leaves in Swedish saunas. Even if you have read about them and would love to try them out, it is not so much of a very common practice in Sweden as it is in Finland. There is a chance they might be available but it is also possible that they might not be. In cases where they are available, you can go ahead and try them.
- If everyone in the sauna is naked, go naked. If they all have their swimwear on, follow suit. Do not for one minute imagine that you could sit there with your swimwear on when everyone else is naked; you will arouse a lot of attention on you and appear awkwardly out of place. The reverse applies to cases where you find everyone dressed up and you opt to go naked. The rule of the thumb is to go with the crowd.
- Do not overly stare or ogle at other sauna users. Keep your eyes at eye level always to avoid making others in there uncomfortable. Even when conversing, opt to maintain eye contact, or stare outside at nature than ogling at a person.
- If you love your sauna feeling more humid, you may be accustomed to taking to pouring water over the hot stones. This is not the case with Swedish saunas; you have to seek consent with the other users first if they prefer the same, just to be on the same page.
- Do not try the dare games in Swedish saunas. Avid sauna users can stay for long sessions even when the sauna is at its hottest. They may even compete as to who stays the longest; do not try. Sauna sessions are best when within the bearable limits. As soon as you feel you have had enough, always feel free to step outside and resume whenever you need to.
- It is very okay to jump into an isvak. Swedish people are fans of jumping into those small holes dug on the ice of frozen lakes or seas after a sweaty sauna session. It is a pretty good feeling contrasting the excess heat with the excess cold. Feel free to jump in and enjoy if you are in Sweden during winter.
- You are free to bring along beer if the context allows it. Many Swedish sauna users think it is a great accompaniment to the heat in the sauna. It gets even better if the people therein are naked; it will make you settle in fast and feel more comfortable when you are tipsy than when you are sober.
Sauna Etiquette in Sweden
Bear in mind that hydration is key to a better sauna experience. Be keen to drink enough water before and after every sauna session you have. For you to reap the benefits, even more, you have to purpose to enjoy your Swedish sauna sessions. Do not go in there wondering if what you are doing is right or wrong, or what you have to do if it is your first time. Simply walk in and look around; do what everyone else is doing so that you are in sync. Be informed that your nakedness will not disturb anyone, and if people are naked, go naked. The reverse is also true.