Other countries, other customs
Globalisation is a keyword that by no means only describes the growing together of economy and countries worldwide. Also the cultures grow together more and more, mix with each other and often lead to completely new ways of life. Even in detail. And yet there are still differences that need to be taken into account when dealing with different cultures. Even if, for example, you like to visit the sauna abroad, for example on holiday trips or during a longer professional stay.
The first question is always about nudity
In Germany, saunas are basically naked. From time to time, a towel as a base helps and people who are too shamefaced sometimes cover certain parts of the body with light towels. Also in many other countries, taking a sauna in complete nakedness is completely normal. For example in the motherland of the sauna, Finland. Also in Slovenia, Croatia, German-speaking Switzerland, Austria, North-East Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands or in Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Estonia, Lithuania or Latvia people go into the sweat cabin without any clothes.
Light clothing in the sauna is required in Brazil, France, Great Britain, Spain and many southern European countries. There, at least the pubic area must be covered with swimwear. It is even more strict in Brazil. There, swimwear in the sauna is a strict obligation. The situation is similar in the USA, which is considered quite prudish in this respect. Also here, it must be at least a towel, better still swimwear in the sauna.
Gender segregation - yes or no?
Yes, they still exist, the strict separation of the sexes. While in most European countries special days for men or women are set up as an additional service, here the gender mix applies. Right down to the family sauna.
It is somewhat different in places where other cultures also demand significantly different customs. In Spain, for example, there is a strict separation of the sexes. This also applies to South Korea. There, too, people take saunas among men or women, but never together.
Concerning the separation of the sexes it is worthwhile to inform oneself before half of the families have to stay outside.
Other forms of sauna
What we know as sauna does not exist in some countries. Indeed, in many African countries, one can also visit the sauna in some hotels, but it is clearly less hot there. Those who like it really hot will try the Russian sauna. There, it is not seldom the case that the temperatures are up to 115° Celsius, most of the times, they are heated with a wood sauna oven, a thing that is not useful for everybody.
In Turkey there is no such thing as the sauna known here, but there is an approximately similar form, the hamam. The procedure is generally separated according to gender and is much more ritualized and developed than in the German sauna.
Things are getting exciting in Japan. Even there the classical sauna is not known. There are special bathhouses for it, the Sento. A Sento consists of different bathing rooms in which the sexes are absolutely separated. Before one dives into one of the bathing pools, a thorough body cleaning is obligatory. Bathing clothes are not allowed.
In Mexico, the sauna is designed completely differently. Here, the focus is clearly on individual sweating, so that the question of naked or in company does not arise anyway.
Even if the sauna in the USA is rather prudishly organized, there is often a special feature here. For example, you can have your tarot cards laid or listen to a fortune teller during the rest periods.
First inform, then plan
So if you don't want to do without your usual or beloved sauna abroad, you should find out in advance exactly what is possible, allowed and customary in the respective travel country. And sometimes the habits regarding the sauna even differ regionally. If you are well informed, you will not put your foot in the small or large faux pas that every culture has in some way or other.