The Finnish night begins with sitsit – an academic dinner party. We will all toast together outside at the Aalto Undergraduate Center Amphitheatre, take a group picture, after which the participant group will be guided to two dinner locations (see your Conference Pass to see whether you are in group I or II).
Another ICPS tradition is for the host country to show their own culture and we have chosen to introduce you to a fine Finnish student tradition called sitsit. Some of you who have been to ICPS before may have caught a miniature version of sitsit at a Nations’ Party, but this year you’ll get to experience sitsit in all their glory!
Sitsit (the word is plural) are a type of academic dinner party common among university students. At sitsit one can expect to eat, drink and sing throughout the evening. There’s a three course meal and drinks to go with it. Although traditionally singing – and drinking – takes a big portion of the evening, sitsit are really about socialising with the people at your table.
There are certain formalities that are part of sitsit culture. Sitsit are hosted by one or more song leaders who are there to introduce songs for all the participants to sing. Many of the songs are supposed to be performed in a specific way – just follow the song leaders, they know what to do. The song leaders also take care of the plot and pacing of the evening, with the aim of keeping participants in a cheery mood. All participants are expected to stay quiet during song leaders’ speeches, songs and possible shows. Being quiet also means you’re not supposed to eat or drink. There’s a strong possibility that your food might get cold, but it’s all part of the fun.
There are various other customs that are common in sitsit culture. These include singing about/for each drink before actually drinking it and formally toasting after each song. These and other customs are taught by the song leaders whenever necessary. Many sitsit have a formal dress code, though it can also be more casual or based on some theme.
Participants don’t need to be afraid about how well they sing – at sitsit one “sings rather than well”, which means that singing enthusiasm is valued over correctness. Naturally good singing is welcome in any case. In the end it’s all about having fun with your friends and enjoying the unique atmosphere!