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How the bathhouse was used in Russia, except for its direct purpose: from fortune-telling to seeing off the deceased
How the bathhouse was used in Russia, except for its direct purpose: from fortune-telling to seeing off the deceased

Since ancient times, the bathhouse has been one of the obligatory buildings in the courtyard of a traditional Russian village. At the same time, it was truly multipurpose or universal. In addition to its direct purpose - washing and steaming, the bath was used as a place for healing and rest, fortune telling and various initiation rites: from maternity to memorial and funeral.

A mystical place for witchcraft and fortune-telling

Since ancient times, in Russia, the bathhouse has been considered a place where all supernatural forces are concentrated. And all because in this building all the known natural elements were really connected in an almost magical way: earth, water, air and fire. Therefore, among the Slavs, the bath was almost a family temple - a kind of intermediate place between the kingdom of the living and the world of spirits.

In Russia, the bathhouse was considered a mystical place inhabited by spirits

All these beliefs have become the reason that since the time of hoary antiquity, the bath in Russia has often been used as a place to store various magical artifacts, funds and potions. As well as performing witchcraft rituals with all kinds of fortune-telling and fortune-telling. Baths were especially actively used for such purposes during various celebrations and holidays: according to legends, for ordinary people, these days were inappropriate for going to steam rooms.

Thus, it was this time that was the best suited for sorcerers and witchers. On such days, they performed all their secret rituals in the bathhouse. Absolutely not afraid that someone might accidentally enter and catch them doing this. Later, on holidays, young girls and women began to gather for their fortune telling on the betrothed or on fate. In addition, it was impossible to keep any religious utensils in Russian baths: icons, crosses and Holy Scriptures. What added to these buildings otherworldly mystery and mysticism.

Bath, like a hospital

Since ancient times, most diseases in Russia have been treated with primordial folk remedies. It is not at all surprising that the bath was one of such means. And not only popular, but almost mandatory for some diseases. If we draw some analogies, then the Russian bath can be safely called a kind of folk “steam and hydrotherapy”.

The Russian bath was a remedy for many ailments

Village healers and healers attributed baths to their patients not only for colds and general weakness. Most skin diseases: acne and acne, various lichens, seborrhea, scabies, were also treated in the steam room. The same applied to all kinds of joint diseases (sciatica, rheumatism or gout).

Modern medicine agrees that in some cases, a visit to the bath can be not only an excellent prevention of certain diseases, but also a real natural medicine. And as a general tonic, the bath has practically no competitors.


In the northern regions of Russia, since ancient times, births were taken by midwives exclusively in baths. After all, the conditions in the steam room were the best suited to this process: the bath kept warm well (and this was important in the harsh conditions of the North), there was always hot and warm water at hand in order to wash the newborn in time. And the twilight and the absence of "extra eyes" had a very beneficial effect on the psycho-emotional state of the mother with the baby.

We used a Russian bath and as a maternity ward

An important factor was a certain mystical meaning of the births themselves.Indeed, in many beliefs, the birth of a person into the world took place in a certain place where the world of people intersected with the kingdom of spirits. It was here that the newborn got used to the new dimension over the course of several days. And only then did he pass into the human world.

Naturally, for such a transition, the baby needed a "guide", in the role of which, as a rule, was the midwife. It was she who, throughout the entire stay of the newborn at the "junction of lights", in every possible way prepared the child for the future life in the world of people: she conducted various witchcraft rituals and manipulations. In addition, the midwife could agree with otherworldly forces to protect the baby from everything bad. She did this through the spirit living in the steam room - Bannik.

Bath for the dead

The identification of the bath with the place where the border between the worlds of the living and the dead passes, made it in some regions of Russia a prototype of a certain Ancestral temple. In addition to giving birth in the baths, rituals of ritual ablution of the deceased were also performed. For example, Karelians, as well as residents of the Minsk and Novgorod provinces, heated a special “funeral bath”, into which, with the help of mournful crying, as if inviting the soul of the deceased to take a steam bath before its journey to the world of the dead.

In some regions of Russia there was a custom to heat the "funeral" bath

For the reposed soul, a new broom and a small piece of soap were left in the bath in advance. The people believed that the deceased could not come to the bathhouse himself, but with all the deceased relatives. Therefore, having thrown open the doors, people waited for several minutes, as if giving time for all the deceased to take a steam bath. After the bath, living relatives were sure to take it. Upon returning from the cemetery, everyone who participated in the funeral procession was again obliged to visit the steam room. To completely cleanse yourself of the possible touch of the spirits of the dead in the cemetery.

Secret Pantry and Temporary Hideout

Due to the fact that the bath has always been a definitely mysterious and mystical place, moreover, not often visited, it was quite often used to store valuable items. It happened that hiding places were organized in the most unexpected places: not only in the walls and floors of the bath, but even in the hearth under the bath stones.

The bath was often used as a storage room

In addition, village healers used baths for drying and storing medicinal herbs, flowers or roots. Quite often, wreaths or bunches of fragrant herbs hung on perches or wall hangers next to the bath brooms in the dressing rooms. Often the village "moonshiners" left beer mash in the baths for ripening.

In Siberia, hunters often built houses with small outbuildings and baths right in the taiga. Anyone who happened to be in this place could visit such a building and use the food reserves left in it. Most often it was the hunters themselves - after all, in principle, this building was erected precisely for this purpose. However, fugitive exiles or convicts often became temporary “residents” of such houses.

Russian bath

And if they could eat or replenish food supplies before the forthcoming journey in the house, then those who had escaped from custody preferred to “turn over” for a night or two in the baths. They, as a rule, always stood a little at a distance from the hunting lodges. This meant that the pursuers or random travelers would immediately go into the house, thereby giving the fugitive time to quietly leave and hide in the thicket.

If he was found in the bathhouse, the criminal received a tangible fortification advantage: the thick and dense walls of the steam room protected the one hiding in it from shots. And small windows could be successfully used as weapon loopholes for return fire.

Russian bathhouse

Thus, the Russian bath can be confidently called the most multifunctional building. And if, according to a popular proverb, the construction of a house begins with a restroom, then the usefulness of the construction of the entire household in Russia was determined, most likely, by the presence of this universal structure - the Russian bath.

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