Also an Estonian word for a warm room (temperatures around 80-140°C) "used for cleansing and relaxation even more importantly". Pronounced "sow-na" not "saw-na". Can also be accompanies by the drinking of beer, or even better, vodka (From a bottle that has been kept in a freezer... goes down like water!)! For the more daring, in early winter can be accompanied by a jump in the lake, as long as the ice isn't too thick. For the REALLY daring, cut a hole in the ice (not too deep out) and jump in. For those bordering on INSANE, you can cut two holes in the ice a distance apart, run a rope between them (in the water) and pull yourself between the two holes. Not recommended for those who are drunk.
Sauna is extremely important to Finns and Estonians. If either has not been in a sauna for more than a week, this is cause to see a psychiatrist.
Another traditional aspect to the sauna is the vihta. This essentially is a bunch of small birch twigs (with many leaves) bundled together. This bundle is dipped in cold water, then warmed on the sauna stove to soften the leaves. The vihta is that lightly slapped onto the body. Very good for the circulation. Other materials have been used for vihtas when birch is not available. Some the author has seen/heard of are oak leaves and cedar. Oak leaves are much more resilient that birch, but to not create as nice a smell in the sauna.
Sauna is pronounced "sow-na" not "saw-na" you non-Nordic ignoramous!