SPREAD THROUGHOUT THE TERRITORY OF RUSSIA
From the Tale of Bygone Years (12th century) “Wondrous to relate I saw the land of the Slavs, and while I was among them, I noticed their wooden bathhouses. They warm them to extreme heat, then undress, and after anointing themselves with tallow, they take young reeds and lash their bodies. They actually lash themselves so violently that they barely escape alive. Then they drench themselves with cold water, and thus are revived. They think nothing of doing this every day, and actually inflict such voluntary torture on themselves. They make of the act not a mere washing but a veritable torment.”
The earliest description of banya (a traditional Russian steam bath) comes from Slavic people in 5–6 centuries. Everyone from a prince to a peasant used banya. Russian bath traditions have not only its straight purpose but it also played a huge role in different ceremonies like wedding or christening.
In old times people used mostly black banyas, i.e., the smoke remained in the bathhouse satiating air with heat and smell.
If you go to the bathhouse with Siberians be ready for strong heat, for hitting yourself with a birch, larch or fir venik (broom) and for periodical splashing around in cold water or snow.
What are the rules of visiting banya? Heating the body should take place gradually, enter the steam room firstly for a few minutes, gradually increasing the heating time, the head should be covered by a hat. As soon you are sweating, you can plunge into a cold pool, snow, ice-hole or take a cool shower. Particularly strong impressions remain from swimming after the sauna in the ice-hole in the winter. After that you can enter a steam room with a broom. Birch brooms contain tannins, essential oils, vitamins A and C. A bath attendant or another person will help you, you get complete relaxation and effective massage. In conclusion, you should drink warm herbal tea with honey. But drinking alcoholic beverages in the banya can be unhealthy for you.
What is the difference between Russian banya and Finnish sauna? The sauna is generally hotter and drier; in the banya temperature is about 60 °C and humidity of 70%. Conditions in Russian banya are more favorable for people with health problems or bath beginners.
- Krasnoyarsk region
- Republic of Khakassia
- Republic of Tuva