In Slavic lore, speciﬁcally that of Russia and Ukraine, the bannik was the spirit of the bania, or the bathhouse. A typical Slavic bathhouse was not a small room like a contemporary toilet, however a separate construction, very similar to a contemporary sauna, with a room for steaming and one other for bathing.
The bannik has been described as trying like slightly previous man with furry palms and lengthy nails. He made a house for himself behind the range and was virtually by no means seen. This was thought-about to be for one of the best, for the reason that bannik was unsure in temper. Because the bathhouse was a darkish, doubtlessly harmful place, the bannik was seen as a mischievous, typically dangerous, being. If the bannik was angered, it'd suffocate the bather, throw boiling water, and even burn down the bania. A bannik additionally could be a Peeping Tom, spying on bathers, significantly girls, as they undressed. It was thought-about perilous to bathe alone or late at night time.
The bannik was a pagan being, so no icons have been ever hung in the bania, and bathers have been cautious not to put on cruciﬁxes into the bathtub. Mothers with new infants have been stored below cautious guard in the bania, for the reason that bannik typically tried to carry off youngsters who had not but been baptized.
Bathhouses have been stored clear to appease the bannik. It was thought-about well mannered to thank him when leaving the bathhouse and to go away him choices of cleaning soap, water, and ﬁr branches. The third or fourth spherical of bathing all the time was reserved for the bannik, who preferred to bathe alone in the darkish.
As in tales of the Slavic home being referred to as the domovoi, the bannik was stated to inform fortunes. Girls and girls would go to the bania to ask the bannik how the New Year can be. A chilly contact or one made with the bannik’s claws was a warning of unhealthy fortune, however a comfortable, heat contact meant happiness.
A particular ritual had to be carried out earlier than a brand new bania could possibly be constructed. A black rooster was slain and buried below the location, and salt was thrown over the range when the bania was ﬁrst heated.