Annual gala and sitz etiquette
Annual gala, often called ”Vujut” (Vuosijuhlat in Finnish), is the grandstand most formal of academic events. Annual gala often consists of four components: cocktail reception, main event, after party and the next morning “sillis” breakfast. The dress code of the gala should be followed and potential honor decorations should be worn. It is polite to cover shoulders with a piece of clothing matching with the outfit while dining.
Guests walk in wearing a formal or semi-formal attire according to dress code. After shaking hands with the hosts of the event guests may find their seats. Guest and their avec are always seated diametrically. Once the seats have been found, the guests stand behind their seats until the entire table group has gathered. Gentlemen help the lady on their right to be seated. Please give the gentleman an opportunity to follow the etiquette but do not indicate that he should have acted differently.
Ladies never put the purse on the table but have it on their lap or on the back of the chair. Be polite and introduce yourself and/or those who do not know each other and keep a pleasant atmosphere on the table
The main event might start with entering the association’s flag. The main event mainly consists of dining and performances as well as schnapps songs during dining (note: toasting according to etiquette, see below).
Cold dishes can be started when everyone at your table has been served. Warm dishes can be started when the people around you have been served.
If you are one of the few who know the etiquette, do not bring it up by telling other guests how to behave without them asking advice from you first. Intention is not to make guests feel uncomfortable.
The highlights of the main event are the speeches and the performances. It should be kept in mind that even though schnapps are part of the event and schnapps songs are sung, annual gala does not resemble sitzt in any other way, meaning that behavior should be according to formal etiquette. It is not advised to leave the table before the end of the main course and the toastmaster allows breaks.
After each schnapps song gentlemen toast first to their right, then left and finally front. Ladies toast first to their left, then right and finally front. Glasses never touch when toasting and eye contact should be made.
When the break starts, the toastmaster announces the time when the break ends which should be followed. It is polite not to delay the programme of the evening or to arrive to table in the middle of performance or other programme number.
The after party is usually held in a secret place, however often in a bar in the city centre. During the after party, etiquette is not mandatory anymore so it can be tossed away, and you can just have fun. It is good to be prepared to pay the after-party drinks yourself as the dinner card does not include after-party drinks.
A sittning (“sitting”, often shortened to sits or sitz, Finnish: sitsit) is in Sweden and Finland a seated meal held within a set time frame. A student sittning in Sweden or Finland is usually a dinner had at the student union’s or nation’s property, usually a pub room, or banquet hall if the student union is fortunate enough to have one. In academic environments some of the tradition is carried on even after one is no longer a student.
Each student community has their own, more detailed sitz traditions. As every organizing party has the right to adapt the rules and instructions and follow their own traditions, remember to always honour the organizing party’s instructions, even if their way of sitzng might feel odd in the beginning.
This guide tells you the common customs for you to be able to follow every sitzt! Rule of thumb: if you know the table manners etiquette of the annual gala, you will be fine during sitzt. However, if you know only the table manner etiquette of sitzt, you will not do so fine during annual gala.
Sitzt is a more casual seated party than annual gala. Often beforehand a theme or a dresscode is announced, which should be followed as well as for any formal party, whether it be coveralls, long-johns or an animal theme.
The idea of sitzt is to go crazy and have fun and the theme and dress code are a big part of it.
When you arrive to the sitz venue: leave your coat in the cloak room, greet the organizing party and find your seat at the table. If no one is not standing behind the chair waiting for the sitzt to start, go and mingle with people. A few minutes before the sitzt starts it is polite to move over to your seat and stand behind your chair and introduce yourself to the table group.
The toastmasters are not as formal at sitzt, but they are there to keep up the atmosphere, make people sing and amuse the sitz-participants. In some cases, if the instructions of the toastmasters are not followed, a punishment might be placed.
A punishable act can be anything that is against the given instructions or doesn’t please the toastmasters. Punishments are humorous tasks the punished sitz-patricipant has to complete either one time (e.g. recite a poem for the toast masters) or something that lasts for a certain period of time or the entire sitzt (e.g. losing a chair and having to sit on the air).
The punishment should come as a surprise and that way bring amusement to the evening. The most common punishments are given to those who leave the table without permission or arrive late from the breaks. Toasting incorrectly is -usually- not a punishable act for a first-time sitz-participant as long as it is not done twice.
Eating and toasting
Although during sitzt is a dinner-like setup, it is advised to always eat a warm meal before sitzt as eating does not have the main role. The old saying goes: ”If the main course is still warm when it is being eaten, the toastmaster of the sitz has not done the job right”.
The ten golden rules of sitz dining:
- Toastmaster’s instructions must be followed.
- No eating, drinking or talking during toasts and songs.
- No leaving the table without permission of the toastmaster.
- Floor is asked by clinking the glass. Toastmaster gives the floor.
- A song is requested as the floor. It is advised that the requester knows how the song goes or nominates a person who leads the song. Everyone participates in singing to their best ability. For everyone to be able to sing along, everyone has been distributed a song booklet.
- After a song everyone toasts. When toasting, the glass is raised first with your own table avec (men to the right, women to the left), then the other side and finally with the person sitting on the opposite. While toasting, glasses are not clinked, raising glass is enough. Remember to always look in the eye.
- There are several exclamations during songs which are meant to bring that extra joy to singing. Exclamations are placed between verses so that they do not disturb the natural flow of the song: with ”Mellansup (in-between sip in Swedish)” -exclamation, take a sip of your drink (no toasting), ”Tempo” -exclamation speeds up the song within reason, ”Omstart” either between verses or at the end of the song prompts singers to start over the verse or the song.
- During songs, drinking is allowed only when ”Mellansoup” is shouted or if drinking is part of the song.
- The main course should not be warm when it is being eaten. If the main course is warm while you eat it, the toastmasters have not done their jobs right.
- Instead of clapping and applauding, in sitzt people bang their hands on the table and stomp their feet to the floor.
HSOY organises 1-2 sitzs during the academic year. Fresher’s sitzs at Fall and Long John sitzs (Kalsarisitsit) at Spring with SVTK.