Different country different traditions of sauna hats.
Interview with Viktorija Bučelytė for Sauna SPA (Japan) magazine.
“I was born in a country with very deep sauna traditions. In the past, saunas had a very important role. People would go to sauna not only for self care reasons, but to notice important life happenings. Rituals before and after childbirth, before the wedding, special wash rituals for the deceased.
Sauna was always obligatory especially after haymaking, potato harvesting days. Several generations would gather in one place: grandmothers, mothers, aunts, daughters all with their experiences and wisdom. There was no fear of the body and old age, everything was simply natural. Such saunas had a magical aura. In the present world those rituals have almost disappeared.“
From experience, each country has its own unique usage of saunas. One of the common accessories is the sauna hat. The use of sauna hats is very common in Northern Europe and Russia. The heat stays on the ceiling, so your head usually heats faster than your body. Therefore, this is a must-have sauna item. It protects your head from overheating, prolongs the enjoyment and protects your hair from heat. Nowadays everyone knows that you need a sauna hat for a good sauna experience.
I started making felt works 15 years ago. Felt that it is 100% natural material, is a unique non-woven fabric with infinite possibilities greatly stimulating creativity. Shortly after I started selling my works at various trade fairs and markets. Started to focus mainly on sauna hats, which is a familiar necessity because of excellent heat insulation. They are very useful in cold and heat. In 2012, I decided to participate in the “Interbad” exhibition held in Stuttgart, Germany. Not long after established a company called “Saunahuete”, which not only sells products but also holds many workshops.
The best memories of my greatest workshop are in Japan. At that time, no one in Japan was wearing a sauna hat. Two years later, the sauna hats started to attract attention and be appreciated. I am looking forward to the day for new workshops with Japanese people and see the new artworks created together.
What percentage of people in Germany, Russia, Finland, and Lithuania wear sauna hats in saunas?
Very good question.
100% of all sauna fans in Russia have hats, and not even one. Perhaps it could be said that 150% – 200%. If a person comes to the sauna without a hat, most likely the sauna owner will borrow one. They always have extra sauna hats.
I could attribute Finns and Lithuanians to the same category, where about 50% – 60% of people wear hats.
In Germany, as in other Western European countries, only about 20% of sauna lovers use hats. For them, it is still an innovation that is slowly taking root. However, good practices are contagious and more and more Germans appreciate the benefits of sauna hats.
Do the experiences of using a sauna hat in Germany, Russia, Finland, and Lithuania differ from each other?
I think the most important moment here is activities and approach towards sauna and no matter in which country. I would single out these main criteria.
Sauna visitors who come only to enjoy saunas at the spa centers – they use easy-care, thinner hats. They can range from very simple to infinitely sophisticated. It is important that the sauna hat withstands the 15 minutes session. Woollen hats, a towel and a turban are suitable for this. The design of the hats here is just a personal expression of the owner. The same goes for Aufguss / Löyly saunas, where the steam is spread with a towel. Light coloured hats are more popular.
People who go to wood-fired saunas already have thicker wool hats. There is a different heat and usually sauna masters are spreading steam with whisks. The steam is richer and creates a completely different atmosphere. Here the hats are used for the first two entrances. In the moment of individual bathing / procedures, people do not use hats. The heads are covered with cooled brooms.
When the sauna is heated with firewood (both white and black / smoky) and the baths use plants – whisks, usually hats of darker colours are chosen, because in the long run they change colour.
Finally, sauna masters, who lead sauna procedures and sessions, choose very thick hats because they are working in high heat and for long hours. Sometimes they even wear two hats, with snow or ice placed in between them.
Sauna masters also like to have more than one sauna hat, as they get wet over time, it’s very beneficial to have a change. Also they want comfortable and useful hats that cover their shoulders and back.
Hats for sauna are useful in the winter after heating to go outside, especially with cold weather to avoid sudden changes of temperature.
I would say a person should adjust the hat to himself, how thick it should be and when to wear it – it is a matter of self-knowledge and inner comfort, there are no strict mandatory rules.
Women wear fashionable sauna hats? Sauna hats are essential for a good sauna experience?
I think every woman who likes saunas notices that after frequent visits the hair starts to crack, and loses shine. In this case, you need to use good conditioner and oil, so where the extra need to cover your head comes that provides more comfort, safety. It is important for women to be beautiful, so they usually choose special sauna hats, since we can offer a lot of beautiful stylish, non-boring ones.
One client bought an eye-catching sauna hat, but because she got too much attention, she came back again to buy a less eye-catching one. Of course, it was a very good advertisement for “Saunahuete”.
For myself, there was a lot of joy to hand make colourful sauna hats that traveled to the famous Burning Man festival in Nevada along with the famous Finnish sauna. Unfortunately, no advertising is available there, but for us the order itself was an honour.