Iceland: Anti-Ageing through Fire and Ice
While the cosmetic industry loves to bombard men and women with the supposed secrets to eternal youth through chemical by-products, many cultures around the world have time-honored traditions that are far more effective than an expensive face-scrub or cream. From hot-spring baths, to steady tea-drinking habits, and more, there are hundreds of all-natural ways to combat signs of age.
Scandinavia, in particular, seems to be something out of a fairy tale with its beautiful landscapes and beautiful, healthy people. As a fan of fantasy novels, I know that many authors draw their inspiration from Scandinavia’s mythology and lore, as well as its jagged peaks and glaciers–and of course, from the diverse people and cultures that call Scandinavia their home.
With such history, it’s no mystery why many authors turn to Scandinavia for ideas on how people may have lived centuries ago. In fact, many of Scandinavia’s oldest traditions–the sort of practices that then inspire some of our favorite fantasy-story elements–are actually still lovingly practiced to this day, and are key to an all-natural anti-ageing routine.
Scandinavia has vitality embedded in its culture. For instance, the sauna is a favorite of many Scandinavian cultures (And features in many “bathing” scenes depicted in fantasy novels). These “sweat-baths” are well loved for their healing and cleansing properties.
The Finns especially love the sauna and attribute their endurance and longevity to the tradition. The soothing, dry heat of the sauna cleanses the skin, flushes out toxins, relaxes muscles and ultimately induces a soothing, calm feeling thanks to the warmth.
A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE
Similarly, hot-spring bathing in Iceland is enjoyed for very similar reasons. Despite the name, Iceland not only sports numerous glaciers, but it is a center for geothermic activity. This dynamic mix of elements creates a number of interesting water sources, such as geysers and hot-springs. It’s not difficult to imagine an Icelandic fantasy landscape with these interrupting spouts of mist.
These hot springs, which range from boiling hot to comfortable, have been a fixture in Icelandic culture for centuries; they were once used for cleaning clothes, and cooking with hot spring water is a fixture in Iceland’s culinary history.
With the land being a constant throughout the development of the Icelandic culture, it’s easy to become jealous of the Icelandic people. For although the people and society may grow and change, they are based in what an outsider could easily call a fantastical surrounding atmosphere. Today, Iceland’s hot springs still prove to be popular with locals and tourists alike for bathing.
The water from hot springs is loaded with minerals that have positive, therapeutic effects. For example, these springs are usually loaded with sulfur—a mineral that naturally occurs near hot springs and volcanic craters—which helps cleanse the skin! A soak in these mineral-rich waters will leave you feeling clean and rejuvenated—and without the guilt of an expensive price tag or other, harmful chemicals.
Plus, hot spring bathing can be another fun social activity. Many of Iceland’s hot springs can only be reached by hiking, so adventurous travelers can enjoy a beautiful trek through Iceland, or even a tour of local villages, before taking a much-deserved dip in these natural, geothermal pools.