Welcome to South Ural!

Welcome to South Ural!

Russian banya

Banya (a Russian type of sauna, a kind of steam bath) is one of the oldest Russian traditions. Despite the fact that this tradition is several centuries old, the banya is popular even today. You can find banyas in large cities and small towns. Usually those Russians who have summer cottages, almost always build their own banya there.

A Russian banya (ба́ня) has a special room, where a large amount of hot steam is created with the help of water and hot air. A classic Russian banya is heated with firewood, but modern versions might use electric heat as well. Inside the banya, which is usually built of wood, there are wide wooden benches along the walls. They are built up one above the other like steps. You can sit or lay on the benches. The higher up the bench the hotter the air is. Once someone has warmed up well enough, he or she leaves the steam room (it is called the парна́я in Russian) and dips into a pool of cold water. You can also pour water over yourself from a tub (уша́т), while in Siberia it's common to walk right out of the steam room and jump into the snow.

At Russian banya there are special bath brooms (ве́ник) that are used. These brooms or veniks are bundles of twigs and leafy branches bound together from some kind of tree—usually they are from birch or oak trees. The veniks are dipped into cold water and then smacked briskly all over the body. There is a special person who is responsible for this, called banschik (ба́нщик). But usually people don't need banschik's help because groups of friends typically go together and are able to smack each other with veniks.

In the banya - painting of Boris Kustodiev

Friends go to the banya with a special purpose in mind. It’s considered that the banya atmosphere brings people closer together, allows them to communicate and interact on a more common level. Russians don't spend all their time in the parnaya (парна́я is a room with hot wet steam). During a break they walk out to another room which is called predbannik (предба́нник is a room before the steam room). Usually, that room has a large long table and a few benches. In the predbannik, people take a break from the hot temperature and relax, drink aroma tea or special herbal tea, have conversations about life and share their ideas or beliefs to each other.

from MasterRussian.com

Beer with crabs (russian: pivo i raki)

bathing in the snow and ice-hole (prorub') after steam of banya

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