As immigrants arrived in the U.S. during the 1600s, they brought along their country's traditions. The Scandinavians who originally settled along the Delaware River around this time were no different. They brought a great tradition of their own: the sauna. Sauna is the only Finnish word in the English dictionary and it means bath, or bathhouse. It is pronounced SOW-NA (not SAW-NA).
Today, the sauna culture is very prevalent in the Lake Superior region. This is especially true in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with a concentration of sauna-goers in the Keweenaw Peninsula. Surprisingly, in the Great Lakes “Sauna Country”, cultural geographer, Matti Kaups, discovered that in some regions up to 90% of the people had saunas. Parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa - home to large populations of Swedish and particularly Finnish Americans - have a large sauna culture as well. So where and when did this incredible tradition originate?
The Sauna was invented in Finland, and has been a way of life there for over 2000 years. The first saunas were dug into embankments in the ground. A fire was kindled in a stone stove, and it was heated until the rocks were extremely hot. There were no chimneys in the earliest saunas. There was only a small air vent in the back wall. Smoke would fill the room as it was heating. It typically took half the day to heat the room to the desired temperature. Once the sauna was hot enough and the smoke cleared, bathers would enter, and sauna time would begin. Over time, the sauna’s walls would become black from smoke. That is where the name “savu” sauna comes from. "Savu" is the Finnish word for "smoke". The name sauna is actually thought to be a derivative of the word savuna, which means “in-smoke”.
The original saunas evolved from smoky black dug-outs to the wide variety of sauna options that are available today. Wood, electricity, gas, and solar power can be used as heat sources. There are wet saunas, dry saunas, smoke saunas, steam saunas, and even those that work with infrared waves.
Now viewed mainly as a recreational activity, there are a many old beliefs connected with the sauna. The Finnish word löyly can be translated as “sauna steam” and refers to the hot water vapor caused by throwing water on the hot rocks. In many languages related to Finnish, there is a word corresponding to löyly. The same approximate meaning is used across the Finnic languages including the Estonian word leil. This word meant “spirit” or “life” and it refers to the sauna’s old, spiritual essence. There is an old Finnish saying “saunassa ollaan ruin kirkossa,” which means, “one should behave in the sauna as in church.” Another old belief was that of the Saunatonttu. The Saunatonttu, which translates to English as “sauna elf”, is a little gnome or elf that was believed to live in the sauna. He was treated with much respect, or he would cause trouble otherwise. It was custom to occasionally warm up the sauna for the tonttu (Elf) or to leave food outside for him. It was believed that he would warn the people when fire threatened the sauna, or he would punish those who behaved improperly in it. Sleeping, playing games, arguing, and being generally noisy were considered immoral behavior in the sauna.
The sauna was (and still is) an important part of daily life for Finns. 99% of Finns take at least one sauna a week, and the number goes up even higher when they visit their summer cottage in the countryside. Summers at the cottage tend to revolve around the sauna, and bathers use a nearby lake to jump in and cool off. Sauna temperatures usually range between 158 and 212 °F. This temperature range causes relaxation and promotes sweating, which cleanses impurities and toxins from the body. The Finns take a bundle of birch twigs with fresh leaves and gently slap the skin while in the sauna. This causes blood to rush to the surface of the skin and creates further stimulation of the pores and cells.
With all of these incredible benefits it comes as no surprise that after 360 years in America, the sauna has become an established tradition for many other Americans besides the Finns. And for obvious reasons! It's incredibly good for you, and it leaves you both feeling and looking better. All you have to do is occasionally lift your hand to splash some more water on the rocks. If you don't already have a sauna in your home, contact the staff at Michael's Homes today to add luxury, relaxation, and value to your life and home. Get started today and get in on one of the greatest Finnish traditions of all time!
Each year, Pantone, the world's official color authority, chooses a 'Color of the Year' that is symbolic of the current year's mood and culture. Conjuring up thoughts of fresh change, vibrancy, and lightheartedness, this year's color - Greenery - is a reminder for all of us to take a deep breath, relax, and rejuvenate.
If the thought of painting an entire room or wall seems like too much, try adding it as an accent color. A dresser, a side chair, pillows, curtains, or decorations are excellent choices. Even a simple plant can make a world of a difference by transforming a bland room into something vibrant and energized!
Similar hues such as Valspar's 'Mardi Gras Green' and Sherwin-Williams' 'Overt Green' are shown below as well. If you'd like to give new life to your home with a fresh coat of paint, a new backsplash, or a home addition; contact the helpful staff at Michael's Homes today by calling 906-401-0575.
January is an excellent time for new beginnings. Start the year off right by protecting your home from cold weather, clearing out clutter, and planning out projects for the year ahead. Check out our essential winter project list below. By implementing a few of these ideas, you'll be far ahead by the time spring cleaning comes around. Hopefully, you'll be so far ahead that you'll be able to get outside and enjoy the nice weather that spring is sure to bring!
1. Protect your pipes from freezing. Why is this so important? Because frozen pipes will likely burst, and that can lead to painful headaches and very expensive repairs. Make sure all exposed outdoor pipes are securely insulated. If you're planning on being away from home, have a friend or neighbor check in from time to time, and make sure they run the water for a bit. Also, if you haven't already done so, be sure that you know where your home's water shut-off valve is so that if a pipe does burst, you can quickly shut it off.
2. Check all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. With the risk that additional heater use and wood fires bring, now is a good time to go through and check all of your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Carefully test each device and replace the batteries immediately if needed.
3. Take preventative measures against ice dams. Ice dams are spots of accumulated ice that build up around your roof line, and can cause leaks when the backed up snow and ice behind begins to melt. You can avoid this by using a roof rake to periodically remove all snow. If you notice an ice dam beginning to form, be sure to break it up to avoid any damage. Ice dams are an indication of heat loss through your roof from either improper ventilation, inadequate insulation, or a combination of both. If excessive ice dams are an issue in your home, feel free to contact Michael's Homes for a no-cost assessment of the causes of your home's heat loss.
4. Clean out your pantry, refrigerator, & pantry. Who says you have to wait until the spring for a good cleaning? The post-holiday time is actually an ideal time to clean out food areas. Remove everything, wipe down and disinfect the shelves, throw out stale or expired foods, and revive your food supply. This is a great time of the year to do this, especially if you've made any health resolutions for the new year!
5. Clear clutter in your wardrobe and elsewhere around your home. Give your home and wardrobe a fresh start for the new year. Donate old clothes and items around the house that you no longer use. Get rid of "dust collectors" that no longer serve a useful purpose in your life. If the thought of decluttering your entire home at once is a bit overwhelming, start with one area at a time. Little steps will get you far.
6. Revitalize playrooms. If you have children, then this step is for you. Since so much of the winter is spent indoors, by the time January rolls around, your kids are starting to get bored with their daily routine. This is a great time to revitalize the playroom. Instead of television programs and electronic games, why not give them some new options for hands-on and creative play? There are so many simple, and inexpensive ways to liven up the playroom. Some options they might love are a chalkboard, tumbling mat, or a craft area. Simply painting one wall with chalkboard paint can turn a boring room into a kid's dream room.
7. Plan your next big home project. Whether you're thinking of remodeling the bathroom or kitchen, painting the exterior, or adding a new addition; take the next step on your upcoming home project. Figure out what exciting changes are in store for this year, and get in touch with the staff at Michael's Homes today to turn this dream into a reality. You'll be amazed at how simple and easy the process is!
The members of the Upper Peninsula Home Builder’s Association have chosen Michael Hill as the official 2016 HBA Builder of the Year. This prestigious award was presented during the 2016 Annual Holiday Banquet.
“We are extremely honored to have been chosen by our peers at the Home Builder’s Association of the Upper Peninsula as their official Builder of the Year for 2016,” said Michael Hill, owner and CEO of Michael’s Homes Inc. “As a company, we strive to build modern, efficient, and well-designed homes for our clients that are a reflection of each family’s unique personality. We want to build them a custom home that will be their perfect family oasis today, tomorrow, and for generations to come. This award acknowledges that we are meeting our goal of providing the best possible quality, value, and design features that our clients have come to expect from a professional builder.”
The Builder of the Year award was presented by the UPHBA, which is made up of more than 150 members from across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The organization was chartered in 1978. It is a professional trade organization comprised of builder and associate members dedicated to promoting the building industry, encouraging professionalism within the industry and educating both members and the general public on building related issues.
Michael’s Homes has been building homes and helping families across the Upper Peninsula move into the home of the dreams for over 10 years. Due to the entire company’s commitment to excellence and professionalism, the small operation has grown and expanded to include luxury homes, log cabins, modest family homes, commercial buildings, remodeling projects for both residential and commercial spaces, and an entire roofing division known as M3 Roofing. You can learn more about Michael’s Homes by visiting www.mikebuilds.com, by calling 906-401-0575, or by stopping by the new office and design center located at 109 US 41 West in Negaunee.