History[ edit ] A mention of the banya is found in the Radzivill Chronicle in the story of Princess Olga 's revenge for the murder of her husband, Prince Igor , by the Slavic tribe of Drevlians in AD. The leader of the Drevlians had hopes of marrying the widow Olga and sent messengers to discuss the idea. The belief was held that Andrew crossed through East Slavic lands from the mouth of the Dnieper River , past the hills on which Kiev would later be founded, and went as far north as the ancient city of Novgorod.
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. A stove in a corner is made of large round stones that, when heated, are lifted with iron rods and placed in a wooden tub.
Once the fire is built, the bather then removes the fire and flushes out the smoke before beginning the bath. Hence the soot and the term "black bathhouses" chernaya banya. The washing room has a hot water tap, which uses water heated by the steam room stove and a vessel or tap for cold water to mix water of a comfortable temperature for washing. The heater has three compartments: The top of the water tank is usually closed to prevent vapour from infiltrating the banya.
Water from a bucket by the stove is poured over the heated rocks in the stove. There are wooden benches across the room. People enter the steam room when the stove is hot, but before water is poured on the rocks.
Getting a good sweat is thought to protect and condition the skin from the steam. In the former, the escaping smoke darkens the banya's interior wood. Both styles are characterized by boulder stones, clay balls and large cauldrons for the hot water as well as stone stoves with a tank to heat the water.
The firewood is usually birch. A black banya is more rudimentary than a white banya. Traditional Northern Russia banya in Mandrogy open air museum. Pokhodnaya or hiking banyas[ edit ] This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.
It consists of a stone oven set up in a small makeshift tent. Hiking banyas are usually made near a lakeshore or riverbank where many big, round stones are available to build the banya's oven and there is plenty of cool water available for bathing. Large stones are made into a dome-shaped circular oven, one to four meters in diameter and a half to one meter in height so that there is space left on the inside to make a large fire. Firewood is burned for several hours in this improvised stove until the stones on the surface of the pile become so hot that water poured on them turns into steam.
Around the pile, a space is tarped to form a small tent and the banya is ready when it becomes very hot inside and there is a lot of steam.
Fresh veniks see "Bathing ritual" below can be cut from nearby birch or oak trees and bathers can take turns cooling off in the ice-cold mountain water. In Russia, special felt hats are commonly sold in sets with felt mitts, along with aromatherapy extracts for inclusion into the steam water. The dried branches are moistened with very hot water before use. Sometimes in summer, fresh branches are used instead. Sometimes instead of drying the venik, it is frozen in the summer when it has fresh leaves and then thawed before use.
In the central European Jewish baths Schmeis were used in place of birch twigs: After the first good sweat is induced, it is customary to cool off in the breeze outdoors or splash around in cold water or in a lake or river.
In the winter, people may roll in the snow with no clothes on or dip in lakes where holes have been cut into the ice. Then the banya is re-entered and small amounts of water are splashed on the rocks. If too much water is used at once, the steam will be cool with a clammy feel. A small amount of water on sufficiently hot rocks will evaporate quickly, producing a steam consisting of small vapour particles.
Waving the venik causes convective heat. The second sweat is commonly the first time venik is used, but some people wait until the third session. After each sweat, cooling off is repeated and patrons use the break to drink beer, tea, or other beverages, play games or relax in good company in an antechamber to the steam room. Commercial banyas often have only a steam room or a steam room and a dry room, depending on local custom. Comparison with thermal bathing in other cultures[ edit ] Ancient Roman thermae[ edit ] Main article: Thermae Ancient Romans had a cult of bathhouse.
Greeting each other they said: Their bathhouses had special rooms for massage, gyms, and libraries. Both private and public baths were distinguished by exceptional luxury — swimming pools were made of precious marble, silver and gold were used to decorate sinks. By the first century BC there were around thermae in Rome. Steam rooms were heated in the same way as Russian Banyas and Finnish Saunas: Rooms with wet and dry steam were also available.
Hot air came through a pipe under the floor. The structure of thermae was complex: Sauna The Russian banya is the closest relative of the Finnish sauna.
Sometimes they are distinguished by saunas having dry steam and banyas wet steam. However, historically, both types used wet steam. However, it is notable that, in modern Russian, a sauna is often called a "Finnish Banya", though possibly only to distinguish it from other ethnic high-temperature bathing facilities such as Turkish baths referred to as "Turkish Banya".
Sauna, with its ancient history amongst Nordic and Uralic peoples, is a source of national pride for Finns. Bastu began to be popular in cities in the Middle Ages. Due to many bastu in the cities[ clarification needed ] they were banned for a few years.
Swedes enjoyed bathing around Christmas—it was popular during the 16th century and 17th centuries. Swedish sauna buildings used to dry meat and grains were used to bathe in. It's common to see bastu in sports venues, gyms, swimming pools and arenas. In public bastu, for example in swimming pools, the bastu are separated for each gender but in private they can be mixed.