Heat, snow and birch branches: what is the Russian sauna?

Back to the news / Thursday, 19 November, 2020
Shanghai, China Luftaufnahme

During the cold season going to the sauna for health improvement becomes especially popular. Sweating profusely is an easy way to boost your immune system during the winter. Finnish saunas are not the only ones that are good for this. This is also a common procedure in Russia. And her name is “Banya”.

The Russian version is significantly different from other similar ceremonies. Banya is a special Russian tradition that dates back to the 5th century AD.

Just like, for example, Finnish saunas, the Russian bath is housed in small wooden houses. Here, wood-burning stoves provide a high temperature. In Russia, furnaces heat up to 100 degrees, sometimes the temperature even exceeds this mark. Humidity is created by buckets of ice or hot water. Water is mixed with essential oils to create a wonderful scent. In addition, they have a positive effect on health: by inhaling warm water vapor, the sauna goers receive valuable active ingredients directly into the lungs. By the way, not only oils are added, but sweet beer is also often used. The effect of this is a killer aroma that fills the entire premise.

The body is tapped with heaps of oak or birch branches (they are called "brooms"), which stimulates blood circulation. In winter, birch branches are preferred. Before the procedure they must be soaked in water, and then they become ideal for this action. By the way, the branches exude fragrant oils that come out of their leaves. The leaves also protect the body from pain when tapped by these thin branches. Such ceremonies are considered to be very beneficial to health and provide lasting protection, which is especially important now during the winter months. After the Russians have sweated, they wash themselves with fresh usually ice-cold water in the second room of the bathhouse.

Beer plays an important role not only during the procedure itself, but also after the ceremony. The third room in the bath house is intended for relaxation. Here you can drink beer or tea, as well as eat. The atmosphere of the rest room is conducive to a long stay. This is a great place to hang out, as social interaction is of great importance to Russians. It often happens that business issues are resolved in banyas.

During a trip to Russia bathing ceremonies will probably seem quite curious for vacationers. Where else can you enjoy pleasant relaxation and aromatic steam? Note, however, that Russians are a little more conservative: as a rule, the baths are divided by gender into male and female. Therefore, a Russian abroad, for example in European countries, experiences a certain culture shock when visiting mixed saunas.

Having steamed properly, visitors can go outside and dive into a snowdrift. In the conditions of the Russian winter, this can occur at negative temperatures, expressed in two-digit numbers. Sounds pretty cold, doesn't it? However, your immunity will thank you. The contrast between heat and cold, according to the Russians from the centuries old, is also fun.

You can find numerous banyas all over Russia. Sounds interesting and attractive, right? If you want to personally experience this, you should consider a trip to Russia. Nowhere else will you take part in such an original and literally "hotly" beloved by the locals ceremony.


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