Surprising Sauna Facts

Surprising Sauna Facts

Strange Sauna Facts: Surprising Sauna Trivia You Should Know

Get ready to heat things up with some interesting facts about your favorite steamy sanctuary - the sauna! You might be a seasoned sauna-goer or just starting to explore the world of warmth and recovery, but either way, keep these tidbits in your back pocket for your next sauna date.

Finnish Sauna Culture: Saunas MAY Outnumber Cars in Finland

Let's start with a fun fact about Finland, the motherland of saunas. In a country of 5.5 million people, there are over 3 million Finnish saunas. That's roughly one sauna for every two people. The Finns are so obsessed with saunas that it's often claimed that they outnumber cars, but we've done some fact checking.

There are a number of articles online claiming that there are more saunas than cars in Finland, but that's actually a bit misleading. The Finnish Information Center of Automobile Sector reports that “at the end of 2022, there were about 3.2 million cars in traffic in Finland, of which about 2.8 million were passenger cars” [1]. If you factor in passenger cars, vans, trucks and busses, the total number in 2022 was 3,187,856. So really, if one were to look at ALL vehicles on Finnish roads, chances are the number is greater than 3.3 million. According to UNESCO, there are 3.3 million saunas in Finland [2]. So while the number of saunas appear to be greater than the number of passenger cars, it's definitely neck and neck!

Space Sauna: The Final Frontier

From the land to the stars, saunas have made it into space! Finnish astronaut (of course he was Finnish) Timothy Creamer brought sauna stones and a sauna bucket to the International Space Station. Though the lack of gravity made pouring water on the rocks a bit difficult, we love the vision.

Record-Breaking Sauna Sizes

Did you know that there's a world record for the largest sauna? In 2018, a ski resort in Norway set the Guinness World Record with a massive sauna that could fit a whopping 150 people! That record, however, was recently broken this October. Sauna enthusiast and entrepreneur Jesse Itzler launched the Runningman Festival, a 3-day festival in Kingston, GA which built the world’s largest sauna. The event was amazing and that the sauna was a giant party! Let's keep making bathing fun!

Riding High in a Sauna Gondola

Sauna obviously pairs well with ski slopes, so there's not shortage or these hot boxes at resorts around the world, but some are a little more interesting than others. Finland's Ylläs Ski Resort houses a "Sauna Gondola," where you can sweat 718 meters above sea level. Imagine gliding over the snowy mountains, warm and snug in a sauna cabin with four of your best friends. Dreamy. When you book the sauna gondola tour, you also get access to the sauna at the top of the fell that is designed for 12 people. Definitely not the best way option to make sauna a regular part of your wellness routine at 1,500 EUR a pop, but it does feel like a bucket list item.

Celebrating Public Sauna Day

Did you know there's an entire day dedicated to celebrating public saunas? It's literally called Public Sauna Day, which could not have been a more straight forward name. This holiday takes place every year on the 10th of March in Finland, and is marked by special events and discounts in public saunas. So if you needed another reason to visit Finland, there you go! Start planning your spring vacay now.

Why Russians Hit Each Other with Branches in Saunas

Lastly, let's address the 'branchy' question - why do Russians hit each other with sticks in saunas? Known as 'venik', this traditional practice involves gently lashing the body with bundles of dried branches and leaves (usually birch, oak, or eucalyptus). This helps improve blood circulation, open up the pores, and gives off a lovely, fresh aroma. It's like a massage and aromatherapy rolled into one!

There you have it. The world of saunas is FUN. With hundreds and hundreds of years of bathing history at our finger tips, there is so much to learn and appreciate about global bathing culture. So the next time you're at Sauna House, remember there's a whole wide world of sauna experiences out there just waiting for you.

Citing our sources:

  1. Autoalan Tiedotuskeskus. Development of the vehicle fleet and car density. https://www.aut.fi/en/statistics/vehicle_fleet/vehicles_in_traffic_use
  2. UNESCO: Intangible Cultural Heritage. Sauna culture in Finland. https://ich.unesco.org/en/RL/sauna-culture-in-finland-01596
December 13, 2023
By: Gavin Jocius