Zagers Pool and Spa Blog


The History of the Hot Tub – Part 2

The History of the Hot Tub – Part 2

Medieval Europe

In our last post, we discussed the connection between ancient and contemporary times in relation to bathing and healing customs. Just like us, people of ancient cultures used spas as centers of relaxation, healing and socialization. They implemented technological methods for running high capacity bath houses, understood the medicinal properties behind them and used pools and hot tubs much the same as we do today. In part 2 of our series, History of the Hot Tub, our focus shifts to the Medieval cultures, primarily in Europe.


As the Roman territorial conquest extended further into what is now considered Great Britain, their cultural norms and lifestyles went with them. Romans had established their own settlements in this region and built bath houses as part of their cultural preservation and outreach. Present-day Bath, England, originated as one such settlement and was given its name for its popularity as a bathing center!

During the Middle Ages, Christianity became increasingly prevalent in Europe and had its own perspective on bathing. Whereas ancient Greeks, Romans, and Jews used bathing in certain religious rituals, it became less common for Christians to spend time in bath houses, not just publicly, but in private as well. Many Christian leaders believed that to remain spiritually pure and avoid lust and vanity, people needed to refrain from bathing, as it was perceived as a highly sensual activity.

Nonetheless, bathing practices continued in the Middle East, Mediterranean and other European regions where dirt and filth was continually associated with illness and undesirable appearances. For example, in Finland bathers would often use a sauna, a heated room with varying degrees of humidity, to sweat out impurities. They would then often use snow or a natural spring to rinse and stimulate circulation, much like virtually every bathhouse in ancient times. Native Americans likewise practiced similar methods in their sweat-lodges.

Debates surrounding the nature of bathing and the benefits of spas would continue in Europe, particularly in present-day United Kingdom, for many decades and even centuries, depending on the cultural beliefs of that region. Although religious figures would raise questions concerning the moral nature of bathing, most religious concerns would be reconciled with social norms, pushing Europe and the rest of the world into a modernized version of ancient spas and bathing facilities.





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