Get to know traditional wellness rituals

Have you ever heard of beer massage or wine therapy? How does a chocolate massage sound? Or one with an amber stone? Would you be interested in a treatment that uses the pleasing properties of flowers, juices, herbs, berries, or honey? You can experience all this and more by getting to know the characteristics of Latvian spa rituals. 

The procedures using natural remedies and various medicinal plants can help you not only to relax your body and mind but also to improve your overall health since spa centers and Latvian saunas offer these authentic bath rituals under the care of experienced professionals. 

The bathhouse, orpirts, have been a Latvian tradition for centuries and hold an incredibly special place in rituals and folklore. According to folk mythology, Māra and Laima, Latvian goddesses, are present in the bathhouse when a new life begins. Different traditional belief systems and rituals go hand-in-hand; for instance, Latvians of old believed that brushing the body with various wild plants harvested at the right time could prevent or cure diseases.  

The bathing ritual itself is done using special techniques that are known for improving well-being. It usually starts while the bathhouse is heating up: visitors get into the right mindset and drink herbal tea. Then it’s time to heat up and sweat the body by going into the bathhouse. This is accompanied by whipping the whole body with brooms made from wild plants. The rituals performed in the bathhouse help to purge various toxins from the body, relax muscles, improve metabolism and blood circulation, and help to increase the elasticity of joints and ligaments. 

Usually, the bathing ritual takes up to five hours and can be perceived as a form of art, so attending a bathing session performed by a professional will not only improve one’s health. but can also teach a lot about Latvian bathhouse rituals.

Latvian traditional bathhouse Ezergribieši © Илия Воскресенский
Latvian traditional bathhouse Ezergribieši, © Илия Воскресенский.

Here are some suggestions for where to enjoy and experience Latvian bathing rituals: 

In Krimulda municipality, at Ziedlejas, you can experience bathing rituals performed by a nature spa master in a glass sauna or in a rustic smoke sauna of old spruce. Ziedu pirts, in Raiskums municipality, offers a bathing ritual suited for experienced bathhouse or sauna users, as well as beginners who are exploring the mysterious world of bathing. 

 At Meža SPA in Jūrkalne municipality, you can stay overnight and host various celebrations, enjoy different bathing rituals, and learn more about the traditions of bathing in a master class.  

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