Tracing its roots back into the prehistoric times, sauna is what unites all the Finnish people regardless of the age, occupation or hobbies. If you ask a Finn, whether he or she likes sauna, you will receive a definite “yes”. Being such an important part of life, well-being and culture in general, sauna has even own terminology. Below you can find a list of the most commonly used Finnish words related to sauna (and yes, in Finnish you read the words as they are written with a stress on the first syllable).Photo: Julia Kivelä
- Avanto – a hole in the ice
To enjoy clean fresh water in one of the thousands lakes even in winter, many people have a dip in an ice cold water through a hole that has been cut in the ice. Having such a contrast of temperatures is said to have a lot of health benefits – it’s good for the circulation and makes the skin glow!
- Kauha – a ladle to throw water on to the stones
- Kiuas – a sauna stove
The main part of the sauna, which is heated up.
- Kiuaskivet – stones in the sauna stove
Combination of hot stones of the stove with the water thrown at them creates the magic of the sauna. It is what keep Finnish saunas hot and moderately humid.
- Kiulu – a small bucket from where you scoop water to throw on to the stones
- Kuuppa – a dialect word for a ladle to throw water on to the stones
- Laude – the wooden seat in the sauna
- Lauta – wooden benches or platforms on which you can sit inside a sauna
- Savusauna – smoke sauna
Smoke sauna is considered to be the original type of sauna and the most traditional one. This sauna differs from the others in that it does not have a chimney. It is heated up with wood and the smoke exits through a small hole in the ceiling leaving a pleasant wooden aroma inside the sauna.
- Vihta or vasta – A whisk made of fresh birch twigs used for whipping gently the body to achieve relaxation
It is common to prepare whisks in summer. If you want to have that summery feeling in the middle of the winter, you can find one in freezers in supermarkets. Just unfreeze it, heat it up and it is as good as a freshly made one!
- Saunaolut – sauna beer
- Löyly – hot steam that rises from sauna stove’s rocks when water has been thrown on them (this is the most important word)
Finnish people usually use this word to describe sauna as such. For example, “Olipas hyvät löylyt!” would mean “That was a great sauna (session)!”
At the end of your sauna session do not forget to say “olipas hyvät löylyt!” and enjoy a glass or two of cold water.