THE ORIGIN OF SANTA CLAUS
Colder weather is hard on our bodies for many reasons. The air dries and cracks our skin, colder temperatures cause old injuries to flare up and create new aches in joints, and the conditions just make it plain hard to exercise. What’s a fair-weather bird to do? Head to the sauna! If you haven’t already adopted the regimen, you are missing out. Sauna use has been popular in Finland for thousands of years, and there are compelling reasons why. Not only are there many body benefits, but science is telling us it may also protect the mind. We’ve known for a long time that sauna can help with blood circulation, stress relief, and cardiovascular health. Traditional saunas use heat to get your blood flowing and promote circulation, and the sweating that goes on during a sauna experience is said to release toxins from your body. It’s a rejuvenating ritual that releases stress along with endorphins. Now, the health journal Age and Ageing has found evidence linking sauna use to a lowered risk for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Men aged 42–60 who participated in frequent sauna bathing sessions were found to have lowered rates of dementia and Alzheimer’s. If feeling good and warming you up weren’t enough, a healthy mind is a great reason to sauna. And while the simplicity of the traditional sauna is part of what makes it great, some facilities have added a modern twist: infrared rays. Infrared saunas are hot in New York City and Los Angeles and are starting to pop up everywhere. Especially if you have trouble dealing with the heat of a typical sauna (average sauna temperatures are Santa Claus wasn’t always a husky, omniscient gift-giver who circumnavigates the world once a year, propelled by flying caribou and backed by an army of friendly elves. Though the historical St. Nicholas had many of the same generous tendencies as our contemporary “King in the North,” he lacked a high-tech sleigh that could exceed the speed of light. To be exact, St. Nicholas was a renowned Bishop of Myra — an old Roman town near modern-day Demre, Turkey — way back around A.D. 300. Even before he became the bishop, St. Nicholas was known for his generosity. The most famous tale of his charity involved a poor man who could not afford a proper dowry to marry off his three daughters. In those days, this generally meant the daughters would remain unmarried, making it likely that they’d fall into prostitution. Wanting to help, but also wanting to spare the family embarrassment, St. Nicholas traveled to the house at night and threw three purses packed with gold coins through the window. After his death, St. Nicholas became a beloved patron saint, but during the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, the respect that many Catholic saints received diminished, and his popularity dwindled across Europe.
One area where he remained popular was the Netherlands. There, he lived on as “Sinterklaas,” a mythical figure who went house to house on the eve of St. Nicholas’s nameday, December 5, leaving treats and gifts for children. Sinterklaas traditionally wore red bishop’s clothes and employed elves, and he traveled with horses that could walk across rooftops. When the Dutch emigrated in droves to America during the 17th and 18th centuries, they brought this kindly icon to the new colonies. Over time, notably through Clement Moore’s 1822 poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas” and a famous 1930s depiction by Coca-Cola ad illustrator Haddon Sundblom,
Santa evolved into the figure we see today.
THE LIFE-GIVING BENEFITS OF SAUNA SWEAT THE YEARS AWAY
kept around 212 degrees Fahrenheit), this latest trend is for you. The average temperature for an infrared sauna is 150 degrees Fahrenheit, making it a more tolerable experience. One New York studio boasts infrared’s ability to stimulate collagen production, an added anti-aging benefit. Need another bonus? Infrared saunas are said to release up to 20 percent more toxins from the body than traditional saunas. Whichever type of sauna you decide to visit, the potential health benefits speak for themselves. If you don’t get to escape to Miami or Cancun this winter (and even if you do), it’s a relaxing way to warm up and ease winter ailments. Treat your body and yourself to a sauna experience!
2 | GilletteLawGroup.com
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