Many people, when asked to name something thoroughly Finnish, will say without missing a beat "sauna". While saunas are quite common in many gyms and swimming centers around the UK, many people are still not that familiar with them. And more, the Finnish sauna culture can be quite daunting for the first timers. In this article, we hope to give you tips that can make it not seem that intimidating to experience the authentic Finnish sauna for the first time.
# Yes, people are usually naked in the sauna
People's attitudes towards nudity can vary wildly even among the nation. The fact is, that Finnish people are on average very accepting and open towards nudity, at least compared to many countries around the world. It is very uncommon for people of the same gender to be in the sauna in their towels or bathing suits. Usually people are a bit more modest when both genders are present, especially when they don't know each other that well.
# It can last for hours
It is not uncommon, especially in the summer for the sauna experience to last for several hours. After the heat, people gather around in the yard, drink some beer or other beverages before heading back. If you are lucky enough to have a sauna near a lake, you can take a quick swim before heading back in. If you are this long in the sauna, remember to drink a lot of water. Beer is not good enough, since it doesn't hydrate you as well as water does. Keeping yourself hydrated can save you from headaches, tiredness and even vomiting. While it might seem that the locals are doing fine with just beers in their hands, it probably won't be the case with a newcomer like you!
# Finnish people are very accomodating
If you feel yourself uncomfortable or start to feel unwell, there is no shame in saying so. The Finnish people are very understanding and will not judge you in any way. It is not a competition of who can stay in the heat the longest or anything like that. Just say that you are not yet used to the sauna and will wash yourself and get dressed. That is perfectly fine.
Just remember that sauna is supposed to be fun and if you don't enjoy it, that is perfectly fine!