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Sauna Memories: Winter and Christmas Eve Stories

Last weekend, I went to see Disney’s hit movie Frozen with my wife, daughter, and one of her friends.  While we enjoyed the movie, one short scene (a couple seconds long) inspired this blog.  In the middle of a raging snow storm, two characters are in a store, and the shop owner offers them a chance to use the sauna after a family is done using it, and they cut to a family of four enjoying sauna together, and I realized two things. One, I looked forward to some strong winter storms so I could enjoy my sauna and steam shower more than usual. Two, the concept of family in the sauna is often forgotten in much of our culture, yet for many of us, the winter and Christmas Eve saunas spent with family hold some of our fondest memories.  We decided to share a few memories with you.


 Keiths Sauna View of Lake Superior

A view of Lake Superior from Keith’s sauna


Craig, your blogger, fondly remembers how winter saunas brought the men of the family together to share stories:

 

Joyce Koskenmaki rendering of family sauna
Sketch of our family sauna by Joyce Koskenmaki
This is a sketch of the family sauna drawn by my dad’s cousin, Joyce Koskenmaki. My most memorable and favorite saunas were taken in my youth with my grandpa, my dad, and my brother in my grandparent’s wood burning sauna in Michigan’s UP.  They lived in an area far removed from any city, so when we visited each Christmas, the sauna was always a highlight.  The sauna was built from wood that my grandfather had probably helped cut down as a lumber jack, and the sauna stove (kiuas) was welded together by a friend.  The sauna served two purposes.  It was our main bath while visiting, and it gave us time to talk and to reflect on the year.  I can’t remember specific topics or stories, but I can tell you I am still warmed by the memories of those times in the sauna.


Matt, one of our regional sales managers, shared this recent story of a winter sauna:

Matt Bergstrom rink and sauna

 Matt’s ice rink under the lights, with the sauna warming on the left.


As we Minnesotans know, this winter came in like a lion.  Not so much snow, but brutally cold temperatures that lasted for the better part of early December.   Most people loath this time of year.  Personally I love it because I can build ice on our outdoor hockey rink fast.   This past week has been perfect weather.   Temps near zero and very little wind.   Perfect for a night spent scraping and flooding the ice.  


This Monday we had a great game of shinny in the backyard.  The sounds of pucks and sticks on the ice mixed with laughter is why dad spends his evenings working on the ice.  After the kids hit the hay I normally scrape and flood.  As you can imagine it gets pretty cold.   In fact, I cut the flooding short Monday because I had the wood burning sauna stoked and I was ready to warm my bones.  Being both cold and tired the warmth of the sauna was much appreciated.  What made this night unique was the incredibly bright full moon.  I stepped out of a steaming sauna onto a sheet of perfect ice reflecting a brilliant moon.   A couple buckets of water over the head was a refreshing rinse.  A minute or two of looking at the moon and I was cold.   The smell of smoke and cracking of the fire were calling my name.    Time for more steam!


For another memory from one’s youth, Mark, national sales manager, shares this story:

Sauna Sausage

 This image was borrowed from VisitFinland.com 


"My favorite Christmas Sauna memory was heating up the outdoor wood fired sauna all Christmas Eve from about 2:00 p.m. until evening at my childhood home.  We would heat ‘sauna sausage’ in a special pan, over the rocks, which we enjoyed for a salty snack with a beverage when we were completed with our sauna bath.  There was something about the steam, the sounds and the purity of a Christmas Eve sauna.  The steam seemed to crackle more.  The quietness of the moment was more peaceful.  And, when complete you felt as clean and refreshed as ever.  When we would walk back to the house, the snow seemed to crackle and snap under boot, but with a blanket of quiet and darkness that is still vivid to this day.”


And, finally, Keith, president of Finnleo, shared his story:

The Christmas Eve Sauna is always special, but my most memorable and special Christmas Eve Saunas were those in our outdoor woodburning sauna at our cabin on the shore of Lake Superior.  There is something magical about walking through the fluffy snow to the sauna, entering the cozy warmth of the changing room, hearing the wood fired sauna stove crackling, then entering the sauna to feel its enveloping heat.  To enjoy the soothing heat of the Christmas sauna with my wife and kids—while gazing out of the sauna windows to the incoming waves of icy cold Lake Superior, watching the quickly approaching dusk in the short days of an Upper Peninsula December day—was absolutely priceless.   Keiths Sauna
Keith’s sauna by Lake Superior

This holiday season, we wish you joy, happiness, and peace.  For the New Year, we wish you health, happiness, and prosperity.  If you have a sauna, consider starting a Christmas Eve tradition of sauna with loved ones.




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