Monday April 12, 2021

UNESCO names Finnish sauna intangible cultural heritage

Published : 17 Dec 2020, 19:01

Updated : 18 Dec 2020, 10:49

  DF Report

Photo VisitFinland by Harri Tarvainen.

Finland’s sauna culture was inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity on Thursday, said a press release of the Ministry of Education and Culture.

The decision was made by an intergovernmental committee consisting of representatives of 24 state parties. This is Finland’s first inscription on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The sauna culture in Finland is strong and lively. The inscription to UNESCO’s list means that Finns are committed to fostering the living Finnish sauna tradition in many ways.

In addition to vitality, the continuity of the sauna tradition is safeguarded and the importance of Finnish sauna culture is highlighted as a feature of Finnish customs and traditions, as well as wellbeing and democracy.

Numerous Finnish sauna societies and other communities that promote the Finnish sauna culture operate in the background.

“Sauna bathing is an integral part of everyday life and festivities, as well as wellbeing and lifestyle for Finnish people. Sauna bathing underscores equality and mutual respect between people. The sauna tradition is Finland’s first element in the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. This will make our sauna culture even better known throughout the world. All sauna bathers can be proud of this,” said Minister of Science and Culture Annika Saarikko.

Heating up the sauna, the customs and traditions associated with sauna bathing, and songs, beliefs, and storytelling traditions about saunas are all part of this living heritage.

With almost 90 per cent of the Finnish population going for sauna bathing once a week, this tradition is flourishing. There are approximately 3.2 million saunas in Finland, so the figures speak for themselves. Families pass on the tradition to new generations, as do the numerous Finnish sauna societies and associations.

“Sauna is an important tradition that Finnish people cherish, passing it on from one generation to the next. The UNESCO inscription is a great honour. It will also further increase cooperation between communities in the sector, such as sauna societies and associations,” said Finnish Sauna Society Ombudsman Ritva Ohmeroluoma.