Sauna Days: Larsmont Cottages’ Finnish Tradition

By Brett

Basking in Finnish Culture

You’re sitting in it - the sauna, a form of steam bath, whose origins are deeply rooted in Finnish culture. You’re participating in a tradition that dates back thousands of years and is an integral part of Finnish life, with an estimated one sauna for every two people in Finland today. The word itself, “sauna,” is of Finnish origin, and the only Finnish word to have entered the global lexicon.

The earliest forms of saunas were likely pits dug into a slope in the ground, featuring a stone hearth inside for heating. They served a dual purpose by providing subterranean housing during the harsh winter season. Over time, these primitive saunas evolved into log and wooden huts equipped with a fireplace, where stones were heated to an elevated temperature. Water was then poured onto the hot stones to produce steam and increase the temperature, a practice that became known as “löyly.”

Sauna culture is deeply intertwined with Finnish social and spiritual life. It was traditionally seen as a place of physical and spiritual cleansing, with saunas used for a variety of purposes, including as places to prepare the dead for burial, to give birth, and to cure illnesses. The sauna was (and still is) considered a sacred space, with a strong emphasis on relaxation, contemplation, and community (business meetings even). It’s common for family and friends to gather in the sauna, sharing this communal and healing experience.

"Sauna is hygiene. Wellness. Mind-body sensation. Ecstasy. Socialization. Meditation. Totally positive addiction. 
And, a way of life."

-Naomi Moriyama

Sauna Culture Heats Up in Minnesota

In the late 19th and early 20th century, Finnish and Scandinavian immigrants coming to America settling in Minnesota brought with them their sauna traditions.

Minnesota, with its cold winters, proved to be the fitting place for sauna culture to thrive. The practice became popular not only among the Finnish communities but also the wider population. Saunas in Minnesota can be found alongside homes, lakeside cottages, and in public health clubs and wellness centers.

More recently, as if casting water on hot stones, there has been an explosive revival of interest in traditional sauna practices in Minnesota, with a growing affinity for the health benefits, relaxation, and social aspects of sauna use. The melding of Finnish sauna traditions with Minnesota life has created a special cultural practice that respects the origins of sauna, while adapting to local and more modern contexts. 

Today, sauna culture in Minnesota stands for a blend of heritage and innovation, with mobile saunas coming in all shapes and forms. Besides bringing the heat, these saunas allow the continual evolution and enrichment of the Finnish traditions and a way of life in Minnesota. 

Sauna Days
at Larsmont Cottages

Sauna Days is an annual festival that dives deep into Finnish sauna culture, offering a rich mix of modern and traditional sauna experiences. Every May, attendees can celebrate all things related to Finnish sauna traditions and achieve an intense sauna "buzz" – a serene afterglow that can last for hours or days. Participants also have the opportunity to enjoy Finnish cuisine, locally crafted beer and spirits, mobile saunas (click through the images to the left to see a small sample), sauna talks and presentations, live music, cold plunges, and more.

It’s essentially an event dedicated to celebrating Finnish culture.

Can’t attend Sauna Days?
As a guest of Larsmont Cottages, you can experience sauna year-round. Near the main lodge beside Lake Superior is an authentic wood-fired Finnish sauna.

Sauna Experiences at Grand Superior Lodge

LAKE SUPERIOR LÖYLY SAUNA LOUNGE

Larsmont Cottages isn't the only Odyssey Resorts property to embrace sauna culture.

Each month during the winter, Grand Superior Lodge offers an amazing sauna event against the backdrop of Lake Superior, where guests can immerse themselves in the warmth of a relaxing mobile sauna and cold plunge. Warm up afterwards by hopping back into the sauna or beside a warm outdoor fire and enjoy s'mores, hot tea, and a skin care station for a pre and post-sauna pampering. 

Bookmark the following page to stay up to date on Grand Superior Lodge's upcoming Löyly Sauna Lounge Events.

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