Germany. Germany. Germany. Germany. Germany. Germany. Germany. Germany.
What do you think of when when you think of Germany?
- A pretty successful national football team
- That bloke with a funny-looking moustache and haircut… cough, cough
- Come on now, admit it… Nudity
Germany is famous/notorious for “everyone getting their kit off at the first opportunity.” Actually, that’s not quite the truth. Walk down any German high street, and everyone is fully clothed. Sit on any German train, and they are all fully clothed, even during a heatwave like we have today, temperatures of 30+ degrees c.
Whereas Germany does have the FKK (Freikörperkultur – “free body culture”) beaches and sections of the park, it’s still the minority of Germans who do go there. (Well, as far as I am aware. I admit, I have not done a scientific survey of my colleagues and neighbours.) Most Germans will still wear their swimming costume, bikini or trunks on when they go sunbathing.
There is, however, one exception. Woe betide you if you break this rule. Germans go au naturel when they sit in the sauna. Now it’s time for me to answer all the FAQ’s that I get from Brits.
- Phew phoar! No, I have never got, cough, cough, “excited” in the sauna.
- No, it is not at all erotic.
- No, after my first visit to a German sauna, I did not rush out to buy a season ticket.
- Sex gods and goddesses do not visit the sauna. Most German sauna-goers are not by any means salad-dodgers. However, they tend to eat those salads on top of their cheeseburger, large Pommis mit weiss, bratwurst, and washed down with a few gallons of beer, followed by a large piece of Black Forest gateau. Most of them make me look slightly anorexic.
- No, I have never met my bank manager/next-door neighbour/that lady who works down the local cafe, while sitting minding my own business down the sauna.
- No, I do not make sure I have a good look, phoar…
What impressese me is how businesslike, practical and logical Germans are about the whole business of sitting in the sauna:
- in the buff
- in your birthday suit
- in the nip (Irish English expression)
- au naturel
- insert your favourite euphemism
My favourite sauna is the infra-red sauna at mine and Schatz’ favourite health farm. 45 degrees warmth and the infrared warms those sore joints. Next to it is the Tecaldarium, with tiles rather than wooden slats. Ideal if you have back or joint pains.
So what happens if you do enter the sauna in clothes, eg bikini or swim shorts?
Answer: One of the workers will rush into the sauna at the speed of a thousand leaping gazelles, shout at you, double you out of the sauna and tell you that you are to:
- Undress immediately
- Re-enter the sauna
…which has to be much more embarrassing than being seen naked in the sauna would have been.
Oh yes, once you do enter the sauna, you must- by tradition – call out a mighty, cheery “Halloooooooooo!” to all the gathered textilfreie people on the slats (or tiles).
I have to say I find the German attitude to be a lot more mature than the British, rather giggly-girl, attitude towards people taking all their clothes off. And believe me, after the first three nanoseconds, you really, really don’t bat an eyelid. You just end up sitting in silence if everyone else is silent, or you join in the conversation about the weather, Brexit, Helmut Kohl, etc.
Have a textilfreier day, won’t you!