From Routine to Ritual: The Lost Art of the Bath

From Routine to Ritual: The Lost Art of the Bath

A brief history of bathing from ancient to modern society, and why taking baths should still be an important part of our self-care rituals today

We believe bathing is a lost art and it’s time to bring it back.

For thousands of years, societies around the world have incorporated bathing as a social and ritualistic practice. From Japan’s plethora of natural hot springs to the bathhouses of ancient Greece and Rome, to Swedish saunas, and modern-day spas, bathing has been celebrated, and intricately woven into our human history.

We now know that soaking in a hot bath, especially with bath salts and botanical oils, is essential to relaxation, drawing out toxins, and even balancing pH levels. However even with this knowledge, how many of us opt for a quick shower more often than not?

In our fast-paced modern age, bathing as a practice in self-care is more important than ever. Studies suggest soaking in a bath for 20 minutes, even just once a week, can make an immense difference in our overall health, help us detoxify, relax muscles, and release stress.

A Brief History of Bathing

Natural hot springs, rivers, and waterfalls were likely locations for our bathing rituals since the beginning of human history.

One of our earliest records of public bathhouses is the Great Bath of Mohenjo-daro discovered in Pakistan and linked to one of the oldest known human civilizations, Indus Valley, which existed between 3300 - 1300 BC. 

The ancient Egyptians were notorious for their obsession with cleanliness, bathing and cosmetics being attributed to status and believed to bring you closer to the gods.

Public bathing was a staple of Ancient Greece and Rome, with the Roman aqueducts enabling some of our first known showers. Public baths were not only social but practical for the majority of society that wouldn’t have access to bathing otherwise. Private baths were often only accessible by the more wealthy classes. Many public bathhouses were centers for various activities from exercise, to offering food and wine, massages, and even home to some of the first barbershops.



It is believed bathing as a spiritual practice continued throughout Asia and other corners of the world well up until modern times. Though after the fall of the Roman Empire and throughout the Dark Ages, bathing rituals and public baths became less revered, and less common, in Europe. Not entirely extinct, they did in some societies continue to be locations for socialization, even hosting dinner parties and musical gatherings.

It wasn’t until the late 1700s that bathing was reborn, and began to be understood as a necessary hygienic practice. Interest in shampoos, soaps, and perfumes gained traction in the late 1800s. In the last century, with the development of modern science and society, we’ve seen the greatest evolution in self-care to date. Our modern culture has developed an obsession with body care products and recent years have shown a rise particularly in those with solely natural ingredients, essential oils, and botanical extracts.

Although public baths may be a thing of the past as we once knew them, modern-day spas, and even prioritizing time for personal care at home is becoming ever more prevalent, as our knowledge of the benefits of botanical based body care deepens.

It may be easy to get lost in the buzz of our day to day, but taking time to give your body a little extra TLC may turn out to be just what you needed for a more productive, stress-relieved work week and even better sleep.