History of Banya
When Apostle Andrew saw the land of Slavs, he noticed and wrote about their wooden bath-houses. They warm themselves to extreme heat and then undress in order anoint themselves with tallow before taking young reeds, which they lash against them violently while barely escaping alive from such self-inflicted voluntary torture every day. This act is not a mere washing but rather as if these people are being lashed alive!
Going to the banya is a well-aged Slavic custom, and it was seen as universally popular during medieval times. Not bathe at least three times per week could mean that you were foreign in origin, especially if people never saw this done before them on their travels abroad!
For centuries, the banya has been a traditional way of life for many people in Slavic society. Villagers would have bathhouses or saunas that they could use to sweat and steam themselves at any time. Still, it was primarily reserved by royalty because only high-class families had access to these buildings with private bathrooms inside them. Peter I (the Great) tried stamping out this old custom when he came into power as an attempt to make Westernized Russian palaces look more European. However, many nobles ignored him after his death since no one wanted to change their habits from how things were before he took over! As a result, Russian saunas are a popular form of luxury in Russia, despite their high taxes. Noblemen continue to prefer the elder and well-aged Bath by the end of the eighteenth century; most palaces had one too!
The bathhouse was the place to get healthy and clean. It had various uses, from cleansing yourself before marriage or giving birth to purify your soul by bathing away any guilt you may have felt for whatever wrongs committed during that period; there were even magical beliefs associated with these rituals! In addition, the hot baths can relieve numerous illnesses such as cholera – which would be why it’s widely regarded today among Russians as being “the people’s first doctor.”
The banya was a place of purity for brides. As the bride washed in preparation to marry, it symbolized that she would be pure forever after her wedding night with hubby-to-be. Some women and their future husbands would go there beforehand on this particular occasion just as an old tradition still practiced today! The rituals of Clean Monday are a fascinating example of how various social classes adopted Christianity in Russia. The practice, which began to cleanse the house and body after celebrating Christmas or Easter with friends from church services, became so prevalent that it eventually replaced these holidays among many Russians living outside religious cities like Moscow.
Despite the old rituals and traditions dying out, the banya is still highly desired in modern times. The fall of the Soviet Union has helped prove its health benefits, which led to more popularity for this form of the sauna at home with Western culture.
More information about the history of Banya is available at http://www.cyberbohemia.com/Pages/russianbaniahistory.htm