Tag Archives: Cultural

Cultures Of The Modern World And Saunas

In the old world, sauna use was common only in such areas as Finland and the other Baltic countries, however the modern world has embraced the use of saunas for their tremendous health benefits as well as the relief of pain and the overall analgesic properties of the steam. The modern world has spread the use of sauna cultures, and now they can be found all over the world.

In Finland, where the saunas originated, it was and still is common to use the sauna on special holidays, such as Easter, New Year’s and Christmas. Back then it took a long time to heat up a sauna and used a tremendous amount of wood, and so it was a special occasion for the entire family to enjoy a sauna together. The Finns took taking a sauna very seriously, and they began the practice of opening the pores of the body further by whipping each other with birch branches to do so. In addition, it was very common for Finnish women to give birth in the sauna, as it was warm there and mostly sterile.

Today modern saunas can be found in almost all gyms and public sports centers, whether in Russia, Western Europe, or in North America. Interestingly enough special good manners are necessary, no matter where one takes a sauna.

For instance, one is not to leave the door open to the sauna any longer than it takes to quickly enter or exit. In saunas where everyone is naked, it is considered good manners to not sit on the wood directly but use a towel to sit upon. Depending on where the sauna is located, one may find that beer is poured onto the hot stones, or eucalyptus but purists insist on birch leaves. Finnish lore maintains that the human body is at its most beautiful after a good 30 minutes in a hot sauna.

What Are the Seven Indigenous Cultures of Panama?

Panama is a true melting pot; most of its inhabitants are Spanish and Indian, or mestizo or Spanish, Indian, West Indian, and Chinese. Sprinkled in are Middle Eastern, Yugoslav, North American, and Swiss cultures. Before these ethnicities met and blended to create the cosmopolitan atmosphere for which Panama is known, there were indigenous tribes that hunted, gathered, and carved out their own traditions in the land. There are seven distinct indigenous cultures, each of which is rich in history and culture.

Over five percent of Panama’s population is comprised of indigenous peoples of the Kuna, Embera, Waounan, Ngobe, Bugle, Nassau, and Teribe cultures. Let’s take a look at the most prominent of these cultures.

Kuna. The Kuna people live primarily on the San Blas Islands, who maintain their own government. This culture within a culture has traditionally been a “warrior” tribe and they have managed to survive by being open to modernization. At the same time, they work to retain their unique culture and honor their history. Visitors will find the bright molas a wonderful souvenir to take home with them. More than clothing, the molas are works of art.

Ngobe Bugle

The Ngobe Bugle territory was established in the 1990s, and members of these two cultural groups are scattered throughout the mountainous region. Agriculture, primarily banana and coffee plantations, are important to the cultures’ economy, and the tribes are increasingly known for their handicrafts. Chaquiras, or necklaces and bracelets made with plastic beads, are especially popular. The Ngobe Bugle cultures represent over 63 percent of Panama’s indigenous population and are concentrated in the Bocas del Toro, Veraguas, and Chiriqui provinces.

Embera Waounan

The Embera Waounan peoples were originally from South America and now live in the Darien Jungle in a comarca, or territory. They earn their livelihoods from agriculture, fishing, and hunting. Visiting gives the traveler the sense of going back in time as you look at the traditional clothing, body paint, and jewelry of the people. Signs of modernization – such as cell phones – contrast with old-world carvings and handicrafts to create a thoroughly unique culture.

Most of Panama’s population lives in urban areas and the country is full of 21st Century technology and amenities. The indigenous peoples, though, help give us not only a glimpse of life a century ago, but also insight into how these proud cultures are striving to retain their identity while adapting to the modern world.