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What is a Sauna?

A sauna is a small building or room that is heated using either fire or electricity to warm rocks. There can be either dry or wet saunas which involves pouring water on the rocks to release steam. Original saunas were dug into sloped hills and used as dwellings as well. The original, smoke sauna, is heated by lighting a fire in a pit with rocks sitting on top of it. When the fire has warmed the rocks, the fire is put out and the smoke is allowed to clear the room (there are no chimneys in smoke saunas). Modern saunas use either fire boxes with chimneys or electric heaters.

Sauna is the most known Finnish word in the U.S., within and outside of the Finnish-American community. While many people have experienced sauna at hotels, spas and gyms, in the time of COVID-19, home saunas have become popular additions.

National Sauna Week

National Sauna Week is held the last week of February to celebrate the importance of Saunas in Finnish and Finnish-American culture. Finlandia Foundation National has declared the last week in February National Sauna Week to build awareness and appreciation of this aspect of Finnish and Finnish-American culture. The first annual celebration of the Sauna was in 2022. (Finlandia Foundation National)

Sauna is Life:

Sauna Culture in Finland exhibit

On display at Nordia House from January 10, 2024  April 24, 2024

From the start of life to final days, saunas are integral to culture in Finland. Sauna are an old phenomenon with its earliest versions believed to be from 7000 BC. It is marked on the Intangible Cultural Heritage List from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. This is a high honor that indicates how vital this tradition to the Finnish people is: at home and abroad. This exhibit will introduce visitors to the history and tradition of saunas while exploring the future of contemporary urban sauna as well.

“Having sauna is sacred in the sense that it connects you to the world. It’s a place where you find yourself and this peaceful joy of life. And the bareness that the sauna allows. It’s so natural that it reconnects you with nature. There’s no shame, no stress, no tensions there and truly sauna is life.” -Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

We are proud to be collaborating with Finlandia Foundation National for Sauna is Life.

Hot Sauna

Come Sauna with Us!


A truly unique sauna experience on wheels.

February 17, 2024

10 – 11 am

11:15 am – 12:15 pm

12:30 – 1:30 pm

Nordic Northwest Campus​

Relax with a one-hour sauna session with Alma Mobile Saunas on the Nordic Northwest Campus. During this unique opportunity you will have access to the sauna, changing room, and outdoor shower. 

Lecture on Modern Sauna Architecture


An opening reception for our Sauna is Life exhibit with Aimee O'Carroll and John Gentry from GO'C, a leading architecture firm in Seattle, Washington.

February 22, 2024

6 – 7 pm

Nordic Northwest Campus​

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