Bath Ritual (bath-ritual.com) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to them.
This might be something that you have often thought about. The idea in a lazy morning, having to question as to when did man begin to be conscious enough to bathe as often as they could. Stick around as we will be discussing some of the reasons how our ancestors grew to develop a habit of taking a bath on a regular basis. We will also be talking about different beliefs and traditions in the past that are involved in
It would usually range from once a year to once a week. People in power and high status in ancient times have given more importance to the practice compared to the common people. But, there really is no way to guess or know whether our ancestors practiced bathing regularly or not.
There are different views as to why it was being performed in ancient times and how an individual today could not even go out without taking a bath. So, where did this habit actually come from, and how did it develop into being part of a daily routine nowadays. Ready yourself as we will be going back to ancient times and dig deeper into how this form of ritual became something that even most of us couldn’t live without.
History of Bathing
The practice of bathing has come a long way and has been ever developing to the most comfortable and enjoyable ways. In ancient times, different societies have already been practicing bathing in relevance to power, influence, royalty, and even spirituality. During these times, people didn’t have any access or the luxury to private bathing as compared to nowadays. The norm in prehistoric times in cleaning the body was portrayed with the use of rivers and sea as public bath areas.
In the rise of ancient Egypt, it was viewed to be more luxurious as the tradition of being clean and well-oiled is the fundamental sign of being closer to the gods. Beauty and being presentable was a custom in ancient Egypt not only among women but also men. It was also a discerning factor in the medical practices and treatments for any wounds and skin diseases. Bathing and showers mainly involved people with power, influence, and status, and oftentimes considered a privilege for the common people.
Throughout the further development of bathing or cleaning oneself, it has become more common practice not only for the rich and in power, but also for the rest of the society. The advancement from public baths to bathhouses and even personal rooms was introduced in the Roman era. The construction of sophisticated water systems and hydrothermal springs was a huge contribution not only to bathing but as well as to the day-to-day processes of the townsfolk. It was also during this era where bathhouses were partnered by providing grooming services and other medical treatments.
Now, similar to any other practices and traditions, bathing also didn’t have steady progress in development. With the fall of the Roman empire, the developed facilities for bathing fell into disuse and negligence, which led to the disappearance of some of the areas for personal care and cleaning. But, even with the occurrence of the dark ages, people in the medieval period didn’t stray too far from this common practice as it was more diverse and unique in several ways.
Another factor that brought emphasis to bathing and hygiene was religion, specifically, Christianity. Even though the early Christian clergy from the Roman era did not approve or were against mixed bathing, it was not enough to prevent the church from imploring its followers from participating in baths. Also, due to this, they built bathing facilities that separate men and women and have been the model structure for the following generation even up to date.
In different parts of the world, distinct methods developed, such as the steam baths in Asia. Not only is it a form of cleaning the body, but it was also considered a form of healing for the sick. It was viewed by almost every religion to be a form of cleansing the body from the impurities that affect not only the mind and body but as well as the soul.
There were sudden changes when the moral viewpoints of the church began to impose and consider bathhouses a location to cultivate sin and impurities as men and women tend to mingle and have sex. In addition to this, when the plague struck the western continents, many more people averted from going to these places. Regardless of what happened to the other side of the world, the eastern countries were still able to maintain their standards for bathing and cleanliness.
As the world enters the modern era, scientific findings and therapeutic purposes began to expand and gained popularity relating to taking a bath and proper hygiene. Physicians even began writing and compiling different medical and other remedial benefits in bathing in cold water. There were also publications on the use of hot and cold water for the treatment of other illnesses and fever.
In the year 1767, the modern mechanical shower was invented and developed. It involved a pump that pushed water into a container above the person’s head, by pulling a chain as a mechanism, water would pour from the container. Although this was not perfectly made into good use as there were still no pipe systems that would bring water to indoor houses.
The vast beneficial findings of having proper hygiene and taking a bath were quickly supported by many medical and clinical studies leading to the varied approaches to its common practice. During the outbreak of the Civil War, doctors found out that by simply washing their patients, cleaning and changing their clothes, and proper sanitization of the room, they were able to save a larger number of people from diseases. This has been the point where the obsession with cleanliness began to take place, and others began administering different practices to further enhance its provided benefits.
As we move closer to the present time, middle-class homes began to have bathrooms in the middle of the 18th century. Convenient methods for taking a bath were also developed, such as the gas water heater and the electric water heater. However, even though bathrooms are already well known during these times, it is still a luxury to have them built inside the house.
By the beginning of the 20th century, the usual scenario for every household would be a weekly Saturday night bath. It has been a common custom for most of the people and especially workers in preparation for their rest day. During these times, indoor plumbing became available to most in addition to the promotions and influence in the use of bathing products.
Today, an average individual would tend to shower daily and sometimes even twice a day. Bathing also proves to provide several health benefits other than just cleaning and removing dirt from the surface of the skin. Not only does it reduce stress, but it also relaxes the muscles after long hours of work and promotes better sleep.
How Often did Royalty Bathe?
You might be thinking that royalties in the past have all the luxuries and privileges in these kinds of stuff. That’s where you’re wrong. You see, even though royalties and people in power or status had all the good stuff, taking baths was never seen as a daily practice during those days. As clean water was hard to find during those times, and on top of that, the Christian church stated that bathing naked was a rebellious act and forbidden.
In ancient times, in the different parts of the world, such as the civilization of ancient Egypt, royalties viewed and practiced bathing on a regular basis, either its a day-to-day routine or weekly. They believed that as often as you can, you need to be clean and well-oiled to be closer to the gods. However, this was never the same in the other parts of the world.
Beliefs, culture, and even religion have played a critical role in determining and developing this habit. Nonetheless, things would entirely be distinct from what we used to know if these factors were not involved. It even came to the point that this has become the footing of our decisions even to the simplest matters.
If you are familiar with King Louis XIV, it was even believed that he only bathed twice during his lifetime. And also, not to mention Queen Isabella of Spain only bathed on her wedding day besides the first one when she was born. With this, we hope you now have a context on how royalty lived their lives in ancient times compared to now.
Today, though we would not want to presume the different habits and routines of other royalties, we can still say that it does depend on the norm, tradition, and culture. Although others are observed to practice daily or even more than twice a day, there are still some royalties in different parts of the world that consider following a tradition of taking a bath on a weekly basis.
When did Humans Start Bathing Regularly?
In ancient times, it was never actually recorded how man started bathing regularly. Perhaps, it would be more appropriate to describe bathing as a rare occasion than being labeled as a routine. But as compared nowadays, it is considered a crucial part of day-to-day living. Aside from the obvious factors that it gives, there are some major benefits that we can actually feel and observe, which were never viewed similarly in the previous eras.
Now, if we are going to talk about the regular bathing habit of man, and assuming that would be the daily routine, it pretty much started at least in the late 1900s through the early 2000s. Though there are various interpretations of the ‘regular’, it would be safe to say that there were, at some point, regular means weekly and even monthly. In the early 1900s, the man was regularly bathing on a weekly basis as it was a manner of welcoming the rest day of Sunday after the long and tiring days or work.
Though most areas in the globe have already adapted the daily routine or even twice for some on the habit of taking a bath, there are still several locations that, even up to this day, seldomly exercise bathing on a daily basis. Generally, one of the major causes of this is the scarcity of supply of water and even if there are some to find, it would be unusable for the intended purpose.
Health Benefits of Bathing
Throughout history, bathing has been a form or practice viewed by many to cleanse and reduce stress after a long week of work. During those times, it was not only for the people in power, status, and religious beliefs. In the continuous development of this common tradition, doctors and other physicians began to state and provide some of its benefits in health and the total well-being of an individual. Though at the beginning of these claims, there were few clinical trials and studies to fully support the statements being provided by these people, it was later acknowledged by some as they started to share proofs and feedback on how it actually helped them for the better.
There are some benefits of bathing that you would actually feel the instant you dip yourself in the tub or as the water begins to pour into your body. In ancient times, it was considered to be relaxing and relieves the stresses, to simply put in today’s words, your muscles and nervous system are being calmed in the submergence in water. This process reduces the pain and inflammation and also reduces the levels of stress and anxiety in the body which basically improves your mood.
Perhaps the most known beneficial factor that you can get from bathing is improved immunity and stabilizes your blood levels. In the early years of this practice, it was already known to man that it helps cleanse the body from dirt and strengthens immunity from other illnesses. Today, it can be explained in a more specific and scientific manner. Bathing regularly prevents the growth and handles germs and bacterias which causes known and unknown sickness to develop.
Others may disagree with this due to different studies, but bathing is ideal for your heart. It was proven that bathing in high temperatures may and can put some level of stress on your heart, but in proper and moderate degrees, it can improve the overall blood circulation and cardiac function. Though it is highly recommended for you to consult your doctor initially if you happen to have a pre-existing heart condition before plunging yourself in a hot tub.
In ancient times and even as of today, there are many skin conditions that could have been avoided if a regular manner of bathing was practiced. Today, it is a proven fact that some skin problems can easily be resolved by either bathing in cold or hot water. This also enables your skin to create antibodies and helpful chemicals to protect your body from other forms of stress and irritations.
How Often Should You Take a Bath?
Now, we might come to a total disagreement on this part. As we have discussed, there are several factors that we tend to consider when it comes to making decisions such as this. But then again, we might have the same point of view or opinion on this subject.
So, to answer that question of how often you should really take a bath, it might surprise you as the answer is not what you think it is. According to several clinical studies, taking a bath or shower daily might be more damaging to your skin than you could imagine. In fact, some people would practice at least twice a week bathing.
To clarify things, if you are doing it for the sake of having a better health benefit, it might not be the most ideal choice or reason. Overcleaning could cause some skin problems and other health issues instead of actually taking care of yourself. Due to the developed products that we use while taking a bath or shower, it might even be detrimental to our overall being than it providing some benefit at all.
Others tend to view it as a form of healthier approach as they are actually more concerned about body odor, starting the day actively, or it has become a routine that without it, everything just feels wrong. Studies suggest that daily or frequent baths or showers actually prevent the optimal functions of the immune system.
Knowing this, you might consider having to assess your daily routine or just completely disagree with these statements. If you are someone who was used to practicing this daily habit and just couldn’t imagine a day skipping a bath or shower and also rigorously scrubs every inch of your body every single day, then it might really be worth taking things moderately.