The Finnish Sauna in Manitoba : a study of ethnic architecture and cultural adaptations
Sutyla, Charles M.,
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"Sauna is the Finnish word for a wood-lined and insulated room, heated by a special stove containing stones, and erected specifically to create the right environment for a certain kind of dry heat bath. The word does not refer to the activity itself, but to the building in which it takes place. One does not take a sauna - one goes to the sauna" (Konya 1973:9) The word "sauna" (pronounced sow-na) is perhaps the only word of Finnish incorporated into the English language. This report briefly traces the old country origin of the sauna and its development in Manitoba. It was compiled on the basis of a field work by the author from the summer of 1976 until 1978. An attempt was made to survey the present areas of Finnish settlement in Manitoba and to place the use of the sauna in a social and historical context. Such an approach allowed for a two-part focus, first a study of the evolution of the actual physical building in which the sauna bath occurred and secondly, an analysis of the changing social meaning of the sauna among the Finns in Manitoba. These two major themes are developed for all the Finnish communities in the province. The general conclusion is that the sauna is an evolving cultural form and serves as a reliable index of Finnish culture change. Finns who came to Manitoba before 1930 and settled in rural areas have in most instances maintained the sauna tradition. Those who came to Winnipeg before 1930 gave up the sauna mainly as a result of strong assimilative pressures. The most recent immigrants who have arrived since 1950 and have settled in urban areas have been strong advocates of the sauna.