Bathing Rituals From Around the World

Bathing. It’s something intensely private– a ritual unique to each individual, a moment of stillness, where the outside world dissolves and the mind, body and soul unite. A practice revered through the centuries that turns a moment of selfcare into something shared, a connection through re-birth and self-indulgence. Sometimes unique to a specific time or place, time to find inspiration from bathing rituals from around the world…  

~ Finland ~

Fundamental to Finnish life and home of the practice, the sauna is the Finns bath of choice. A means of soothing the brutally cold climate, preventing colds, relieving aching muscles and cleansing the skin, with 5 million people and 3 million saunas in the country, almost every Finn takes at least one sauna a week. More than a simple soak, many of the most important aspects of Finnish life happen in the sauna- birth, marriage and business deals to name a few.

Let the ritual begin…

Warm up and break into sweat, inhale löyly (birch vapor) and whisk one’s body with vasta (birch branches.) Gently strike the skin to raise blood circulation and increase levels of perspiration. To finish the bather make take a soapless, lukewarm shower or even cool off in the open air. For the adventurers amongst you, you may even conclude with quick roll in some snow or take an invigorating dip in freezing cold waters.

~ Japan ~

Japan’s bathing customs go back thousands of years, practiced with precision, respect and care.  With 25,000 natural hot springs, called onsen, the steaming dry heat experience is leisurely, meditative, and sensual.

Let the ritual begin…

This respect for the ritual of bathing is built into the home, with dedicated rooms made for bathing alone (toilets are separate). With a deep tub, a window for contemplation, a handheld, wall mounted shower and wooden buckets and stools.

Often taking place in the evening before dinner, begin with soapy scrub while perching on the wooden stool to rinse away dirt before dipping into the tub, soak to open your pores and relax before rinsing once more. Finish with a final, longer soak.

 

~ Korea ~

“You’re not really friends with someone until you’ve bathed naked together in a jimjilbang.” – translation of an old Korea saying

Korea’s bathhouses—mogyoktang (traditional) or jimjilbang (modern)—are all about the social experience.

Let the ritual begin…

Made up of sprawling rooms casually stroll through till one takes your fancy - from steam rooms to saunas, ice stations, jade rooms and wine pools, there’s even a dedicated space to break for eating and socialising.

 

If you’re looking for the full spa experience, an iconic feature of Korea’s bathing culture is the sesshin. Administered by ‘ajummas’ – these middle-aged women deliver extremely vigorous exfoliating body scrubs then cover you in hot towels, leaving skin glowing and soft. 

 

~ Turkey ~

In Turkey bathing is a semi-religious ritual, where body and soul go hand-in-hand. Purifying the body and soul as one. Mohammed himself endorsed sweat baths around 600AD and the Turkish bath (hamams) are almost an extension of the mosque, designed to create an atmosphere of sanctity.

Let the ritual begin…

At the centre of the Hamams sits a hot stone slab where bathers loosen up and undergo a five-step purifying ritual-

~ warming your body

~ an extremely vigorous massage

~ scraping of skin and hair

~ soaping

~ relaxation

~ Russia ~

Discover Russia’s bathing ritual, the loud, the boisterous, the steamy banya. Described as Russia’s ‘second mother’ by Pushkin, Russian writer and cultural icon, he claimed it restored him to state of glowing health.

Let the ritual begin…

To create that scorching hot, billowing and restorative steam, water is poured over a large heater filled with hot rocks.  Disrobe and (traditionally) top your head with a felt hat dipped in cold water to protect yourself from the heat. Then, take it turns to beat yourself and your fellow bathers with birch switches dipped in icy water to stimulate the sweat glands. Finish with long shower and a of vodka of course).

~ Mexico & Central America ~

Stemming from a Mayan tradition, in Mexico and Central America, discover the temazcal spa.

Let the ritual begin…

Crawl into a wait-high circular dome structure, heating by smouldering rocks. The door shuts and together with your fellow bathers sing, chant and share intentions. A two hour experience, traditions state as the heat intensifies your sweat encourages healing and growth.

Feel inspired… time to create your own ritual. Time to sink in, time to switch off and savour.  
Discover Soak Sunday.

 

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