ESTONIAN SMOKE SAUNA AT MOOSKA FARM – UNESCO INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE OF HUMANITY
Package type: half-day programme
Season: all year
– sauna session: 4–6 persons
– excursion: max. 20 persons
Package includes: 1.5 hour excursion + 3 hour sauna session
Type of transport: individual transfer/tour bus
Address: Mooska Farm, Haanja, Võru, Estonia 65601
Distance from Tallinn: 270 km
Host: Eda Veeroja
The smoke sauna is an important part of everyday life in the Võru community in Estonia. It is the centre of a rich set of traditions including the actual bathing customs, the skills of making bathing whisks, building and repairing saunas, and smoking meat in the sauna. The sauna is a building or room heated by a stove covered with stones and with an elevated platform for sitting or lying. It has no chimney, and the smoke from the burning wood circulates in the room. People usually go into the sauna together and remain until they are sweating. Water is thrown on the heated stones to produce hot steam-laden air and bathers beat their bodies with whisks to remove dead skin and stimulate blood circulation. After sweating, whisking, relaxing and possible healing procedures, people cool themselves outside and rinse their bodies with water. The procedure is then repeated. The smoke sauna tradition is primarily a family custom, usually practised on Saturdays, but also before major festivals or family events. Its main function is to relax the body and mind. Families take turns hosting each other. Usually an older family member is responsible for preparing the sauna, accompanied by the children who gradually acquire the necessary skills. The smoke sauna tradition is part of the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Mooska Farm is a typical smallholding in Southern Estonia. The Veeroja family are proud to share their life with guests and introduce them to the smoke sauna.
- Arrival, meeting the hosts.
- The hosts introduce the smoke saunas of Mooska farm. Two of them are for bathing, while the third is for smoking meat. Visitors get an overview of the construction, heating, sauna rituals and family traditions of the smoke sauna. The excursion ends with a tasting of smoked pork. Duration approx. 1.5 hours.
- Sauna session with the host family. The hosts lead the visitors through the sauna process. The sauna is located near a pond for a cooling swim when the water is ice free or an invigorating dip in winter. During the experience your hosts will tell you all about and explain Estonian smoke sauna traditions and beliefs.