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The Universality of Sweat Rituals


Sweat rituals have been present throughout the world for thousands of years and are central to community life among many cultural groups. The oldest sweat ritual structure was recently found in Scotland and dates between 1500 BC and 1200 BC. Different forms of indigenous sweat practices have been found across many geographically and culturally distinct regions of the world:

  • American Indian Sweat Lodge
  • Finnish Sauna
  • Greek Sweat Bath
  • Irish Sweat House
  • Japanese Mushi-Buro and
  • Korean Jim Jil Bang
  • Jewish Shvitz
  • Islamic Hammam
  • Mayan Sweat House
  • Mexican and Central American Temescal and Inipi;
  • Roman Balnea and Thermae
  • Russian Bania
  • Scythian Sweatbath
  • South African Sifutu

While there are variations in the different forms of sweat rituals, the common purposes include promoting physical and mental health, spirituality, and socialization.

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