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Sauna happiness revisited (this time from Finland)

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When the World Happiness Report was released in March 2019, claiming Finland as the happiest place in the world, I wrote this post lightly suggesting that Finland’s top ranking was because of sauna.

However, half way into my sauna tour of Finland, I am convinced that sauna is a key reason for such great temperament in this great country.

Here in Finland, my 30 plus years loving sauna is supported and reaffirmed at every turn and with most every encounter.

For example, stopping for gas half way between Jyväskylä and Tampere, striking up a conversation at the cash register with an X generation attendant:

“So, how often do you sauna?”

“Everyday” he dead pans.

“Wood fired?”

“Oh yes, every night, starting around 8 pm or so.”

Then a middle age customer chimes in:

“When I was his age, we would go to sauna three times a day.”

And off we go. We talk wood species, burn times, cycles, cold swims, on and on.

This is how it goes in Finland. 5.5 million people and 3.3 million saunas. More saunas than cars, and 10.10 million conversations about sauna (if you so choose).

There is no reason to contest any of these numbers.

Finns tell the truth.

Finns don’t exaggerate.

I am more convinced than ever that as the sauna cat is finally out of the bag (September 2014), there is great benefit to help share and explain the health benefits of sauna in context of the Finnish way.

With the rise of other choices of iterations and fragmentations (infrared, aufguss theatre, drive through, etc.), Finns will generally respond with “people can do as they please.”

Yet this trip has been a pilgrimage of sorts to become reacquainted with the authentic.

The sauna that provides me, the convenience store clerk, and 5.5 million other Finns happiness is my kind of sauna.

Honest, happy, kind people are my kind of people.

Reporting from Finland: Glenn from Saunatimes (with a smile!).

Having a beer with Ilmari and regulars after Rajaportti sauna
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5 thoughts on “Sauna happiness revisited (this time from Finland)”

  1. Aaron: Thank you for the warm invitation. Just can’t get up there this trip! Perhaps we present a virtual visit via saunatimes guest post? Thanks for this.

  2. Hey Glenn,
    Could you possibly explain some of the details about how smoke saunas work?

    I’m familiar with the basics of it being a sauna room with no chimney. Light a bunch of wood and burn it down for a long time; but I’ve always wondered the following:

    How does everything not get coated in smoke residue?

    What is the risk of carbon monoxide in this environment and how is that risk mitigated?

  3. Greg:

    Smoke saunas. Everything does get smoke residue. Finns seem to love it. I’m also questioning the health of ash residue. The smoke does dissipate from vents, and fire is allowed to down completely and all remaining embers and ash are removed from fire box below the rocks (from outside, steps below the savusauna building.

    it’s a real simple system. Fire heats a shit ton of rocks above. Smoke is allowed to go in the hot room.

    It’s actually quite safe from a carbon monoxide standpoint as after several hours of burn, it’s all over except for hot rocks (that stay hot for many many hours and produce hot, soft, intense, great loyly).

    Dangerous thought: I’m curious as to how much of the love of savusauna over here is due to their history and allure and from traditional standpoint. I am enjoying savusauna in a big way, and also conventional constant burn saunas too…

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