Wednesday, March 13, 2013


By Eva Fydrych

A Short History of Spas

Photo courtesy of SKY SPA

With record numbers of people searching for places to relax and unwind without leaving the city, spa-going has been described as a new cultural phenomenon. But, in fact, it has been practiced for thousands of years - from the Mesopotamians, Egyptians and Minoans, to the Greeks and Romans, and later, the Ottomans, Japanese and Western Europeans.

Many experts still argue about the origin of the term. There are two main theories. Spa in Latin is acronym of “sanus per aquam” or “health through water.” It is also the name of a small Belgium town known since Roman times for its baths. Hot mineral springs were used by Roman soldiers to treat aching muscles and wounds from a battle. The word spa became synonymous in the English language with a place to be restored and pampered.

Photo courtesy of SKY SPA

The belief in the curative powers of mineral waters and the practice of travelling to hot or cold springs goes back to prehistoric times. Archaeological investigations near hot springs in France and Czech Republic revealed Bronze Age weapons and offerings. In Great Britain, ancient legend credited early Celtic kings with the discovery of the hot springs in Bath, England.

Many people around the world believed that bathing in a particular spring, well, or river resulted in physical and spiritual purification. Forms of ritual purification existed among the native Americans, Persians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. Complex bathing rituals were also practiced in ancient Egypt, in prehistoric cities of the Indus Valley, and in Aegean civilizations. Most often these ancient people did little building construction around the water, and what they did construct was very temporary in nature. 

SKY SPA in Quebec, Canada (Photo courtesy of SKY SPA)

In the 19th century, Europe's great spas were destinations for the wealthy, who went there to "take the waters." Today, ritual purification through water can be found in the religious ceremonies of Jews, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, and Hindus. These ceremonies reflect the ancient belief in the healing and purifying properties of water.

Water treatments are still considered the heart of the spa experience in Europe. When your body is submerged in water, you find true balance as water provides the equilibrium. Thermal baths can strengthen the immune system, ease aches and pains, and help to combat stress and nervous tension.

Massages and facials are by far the most popular spa treatments in America. Many regular spa-goers say that there is nothing better than a massage if you need deep relaxation. A great spa massage can undo accumulated tensions, relax the body and mind, and renew your energy. It also improves blood circulation, which delivers oxygen and nutrients to the cells, and stimulates the lymphatic system, which carries away the body's waste products. 

Photo courtesy of SKY SPA

More and more people turn to the spa not only for health, wellness, anti-aging and relaxation, but also some of their most important lifestyle pursuits. Today's spa experience covers everything from a medical and spiritual programs to outdoor adventures and exotic travel - with spas located in virtually every global region. 

Many of them offer wonderful spa packages that can provide total renewal and relaxation in a short period of time and can totally transform both your body and mind. It has been proved that massage releases a hormone called Serotonin that enhances the body and mind's "feel good" state. When you receive a spa service, your mind, body and soul are in harmony.

So if you feel the need to escape the stresses and strains of everyday life, a trip to a day spa may be just a solution you are looking for.

Source: SpaFinder, Times of India, Wikipedia

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