Archive for Banya

The Russian Banya. It has to be done.

The Russians invented the Banya because┬áduring a Russian winter one can feel as if he will never be warm again. It’s the kind of cold that seeps deep into your bones and holds on tight. Only the Banya can have victory over this kind of frost. Basically the Banya is a room (either a little log house or a more professional, spa-looking sauna) where they jack up the heat to unbearable levels. Sometimes dry, sometimes steam, one sits and sweats and sweats with periods of running out into the cold to regain your sanity. While these sweat rooms are fairly common in the colder countries, what makes it peculiarly Russian (other than the usual copious amounts of Vodka) are the “Veniki”. These are birch twigs with leaves attached, used to slap all over your body to “get the blood moving”. I think it adds just a touch of cruelty to make every Russian feel at home. Probably the best part of the Banya is that the Russians put so much effort into it. They get that gleam in their eye, kind of a dangerous gleam but you know it’s going to end up good.