When I was growing up, we took baths. It wasn’t fancy, we didn’t bathe to relax, bathing was just to get the dirt off (I spent many formative years on a farm). For the country in general, the daily bath fell out of favor and was replaced by the now ubiquitous shower. Who can argue with the efficiency and speed of a quick shower when we need to get children and ourselves out the door? Showers can also save water and energy depending on how much time we spend with the water running (my children are an exception).
Sore muscles and the need to relax have reopened my eyes to the virtue of a good soak. Many countries in the world never lost the appreciation of bathing-while traveling through Japan, I experienced the beauty and ritual of bathing in deep, very hot soaking tubs. In that culture, bathing in the home and in public spas, is a way to connect with family members and friends and is a spiritual balm. In the United States, we take our bathing a little more privately, but more and more, the experience of a leisurely bath is regaining popularity.
Whereas a few years ago, a tub was just a fixture we included for bathing small children or to soak a tired back, today a tub is often the centerpiece of the bathroom. Those tubs come in a galaxy of shapes and materials and include features too numerous to detail. My favorites are often the most simple, which are made to just sit and soak.