The Sauna

I spot the Scandinavians in the departure lounge. It's not their blond hair, but the shorts they are wearing, covering only half their buttocks. The thing that sets them apart is that they look utterly at ease in their bodies. We might as well have been in their sitting rooms. It's interesting, though, that despite me living amongst women who are on the whole conservatively dressed, these young women do not come across to me as oozing sexuality, but merely following the codes of their countries. Beauty and the possibility of possessing it can be spoken as clearly with only the eyes as with a bare midriff (though men may be prone to much confusion about this). But it is liberating to see a woman's entire skin and there be no fear of what may be caused by it. Better this than the feeling that men's passions can be ignited by the fall of a scarf or the sight of a leg, rather than this being taken for granted, and women differentiated by wit and wisdom. Passion should be ignited in either sex from an equal starting point. Boys and girls swimming together can focus on deeper mysteries than what hides behind clothes. Ville's extended family all went swimming together on their island, and in Finland people use public saunas nude. These are examples of a relaxed attitude to nudity, but also an attitude which does not necessarily associate nudity with sex. This is quite different from the UK which is relaxed, but not that relaxed, and still finds nudity something of a joke. When Ruskin first went to use a sauna here, he was really shocked to find naked men (and came out immediately!).

I would find it harder to talk about dress codes if I hadn't myself followed strict (Jewish) rules of dress for some time. I attended Yeshiva in Israel and I followed these rules with my mind as well as my attire. I realised that it is much easier to follow physical rules of modesty than to be modest of mouth. Giving up gossip was so hard! I don't think this phase was ever likely to last long, but it answered many questions that seemed extraordinarily pressing to my late teen self. This is also very hard to say because Turkey's divisions are manifested in dress codes and too many people judge books by their cover.

Yesterday Ville and I had a sauna with the children. We all sat hot and naked, sweating and then cooling off outside on the grass under trees dripping from earlier rain, before going in again. In winter, the cooling can be sped up by rolling in snow or swimming in a hole in the ice. When everyone had sweated enough, we washed outside with big bowls of water and ladles. It is wonderful for everybody to be naked in such a beautiful setting. After a sauna you walk back naked through the garden to the house.

Part of me hopes that we will always do this, that the children won't become embarrassed and will embrace the decline of our bodies with ease. As I'm finding out it's much harder to pick and choose from the various cultures we live in, but a relaxed attitude to nudity is one I'm hoping will stick.

Anton running to the sauna.
Anton running to the sauna.

Hot Matti.
Matti emerges to cool down.

Matti and Ville outside the sauna.
Matti and Ville outside the sauna.

Pink and  perfect!

Visit the Facebook page or the Twitter page of this blog

2 thoughts on “The Sauna

  1. What a lovely and interesting post. The sauna sounds amazingly relaxing and cleansing. What a fabulous place you must live in.

  2. Clea14:19

    I LOVE those gorgeous little naked bums, busily getting up to mischief! Love!


Proudly powered by Blogger
Theme: Esquire by Matthew Buchanan.
Converted by