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Finnish sauna tradition nominated for inscription on UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage

Ministry of Education and Culture
Publication date 29.3.2019 12.48
News item
Kuvassa miehiä saunomassa
Foto: Hanna Söderström / Finland Promotion Board

The Ministry of Education and Culture nominates Finnish sauna bathing for inscription on UNESCO's List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The Finnish Heritage Agency together with sauna associations has drawn up the nomination proposal, Sauna Culture in Finland. Minister of Culture Sampo Terho has signed Finland’s proposal. The decision on whether the nomination is accepted will be received in December 2020.

In 2017, sauna bathing, along with 52 other traditions, was selected for the National Inventory of Living Heritage which the Finnish Heritage Agency maintains. Once inscribed on this list, an element can be nominated for inscription on the UNESCO lists. Preparation is underway for the next nomination, the fiddle tradition from Kaustinen.

For the purposes of the nomination, sauna culture as practised in Finland has been identified and defined according to the criteria set out in the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. Sauna bathing remains a strong and living tradition widely practised in Finland.

Inquiries: Mirva Mattila, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Education and Culture, mirva.mattila(at), tel. + 358 02953 30269

Related links

Finland launches preparation of nominations for inscription on UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (Ministry of Education and Culture press release, 1 June 2018) 

All elements inscribed on UNESCO’s lists 

UNESCO Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage

  • UNESCO maintains Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
  • Finland signed the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage five years ago. The Convention promotes the protection of intangible cultural heritage and makes the diverse cultural traditions of people, communities or groups visible.
  • The Finnish Heritage Agency is responsible for the implementation of the Convention in Finland.
  • UNESCO’S lists currently have more than 500 elements from 122 countries. Elements from Finland have not yet been inscribed on the lists.
Culture Sampo Terho