One of the very first things I was encouraged to do when arriving in Helsinki,was to join the fitness gym where Tuija regularly attended.At first I thought what the hell!.Not for me.The next day I was outside the Gym at 0800,I must admit that it was a very wise decision.
Not only was it improving my general health but allowed me to meet and speak to Finnish citizens.The reason it was so early is that Tuija finished night shifts as a nurse at 0745.We would complete our work out and then visit the Sauna.This was to be the first time I had visited a Finnish Sauna,and believe me when I say,that finns are fiercely proud of it.They today say that they discovered it and go to great lengths to let every one know this.It is a well known fact that early finns,some thousands of years ago dug holes in the ground,covered it with a tarpaulin and sat round rocks that were heated to high temperatures.
Marvelous things happen beneath the skin in the heat of the sauna. The capillaries dilate permitting increased flow of blood to the skin in an attempt to draw heat from the surface and disperse it inside the body. The bather’s skin becomes cherry red. The heart is pressed into a faster pace to keep up with the additional demands for blood. Impurities in the liver, kidneys, stomach, muscles, brain, and most other organs are flushed out by the faster flow of juices. The skin and kidneys filter the wastes, excreting them in sweat and urine.
Suffice to say it leaves you feeling extremely clean and reinvigorated.The sauna is truly a sanctuary of peace.As I said the history goes back along way,it was a place where mothers gave birth even.In the country it is a good idea to come out of the sauna and immediately jump into the snow,lie on your back and sweep your arms through the snow.Stand up and the image that confronts you is of an angel.Hence the name Angels in the snow.
So that was my first warm welcome to Finland and to this day We go as often as possible,whether in Helsinki or the countryside.