Sitsifest

Sitsi-parties

 

NESU operates on both the Nordic level as well as on the local level. The most important task in the local level is to organize different kinds of events, the largest of them being sitsi-parties (also known as sitsfests or sitsi-parties).

The variety of sitsfest traditions stretches from Finland to Iceland and about the only thing they have in common, is that in all versions you sit at a table, drink schnapps and sing. Traditions change over time - and sometimes it takes only one occurrence to make something a tradition - but the point is to keep the idea behind everything in mind. The following is an explanation of the way sitsfests have been held at NESU at the beginning of the 21th century.

 

 

NESU-KY's KY 100 - anniversary sits (Feb 2011)

Starting the Sitsfest
After the arrival of the participants the toastmaster calls the guests to the table by ringing his/her bell (the toastmaster or master of ceremonies leads the sitsfest with the help of a (hopefully loud and clear) bell). It is inappropriate to arrive late to a sitsfest. The sitsfest begins with the song "Helan går" and the song is often followed by a few welcoming words from the toastmaster or the president of the organizing NESU.

 

The Three Basic Rules
1. When you hear the toastmaster’s bell, quiet down.

2. When someone is performing remain quiet.

3. During the sitsfest only the waiters may move in the vicinity of the tables.

Rule breaking is heavily punished. Punishments have varied over the years from eating dog biscuits to standing on one’s head. The idea behind punishments has however remained the same, something humiliating and/or unpleasant. 

 

Food and Drink
The servings of a sitsfest usually include a salad, warm meal and dessert. The drinks usually include beer and cider set at the table, maybe wine and of course schnapps, which one can enjoy anywhere from 1-10 in one night, usually about 3-4. Coffee and punch is served with dessert.

 

Sitsfest traditions

Samling:
Every now and then during a Sitsi-partie, someone stars to shout "Samling". The others around join in yelling ‘samling’ and raise their glasses as well. All the sitsfest participants join the yelling, which continues for as long as there is air in their lungs and numerous ‘samling’-groups are formed. As the air starts to run out from the lungs of the person who started the ‘samling’ he/she moves onto the ‘skål’-phase of the samling. He/she hits their glass to the table shouting "skit" and then proceeds to raise it to their lips accompanied by the yell "skål!". The others follow. All the yelling causes one’s throat to dry and the thirst quencher tastes all the better.

The legend of Samling is told by some participant at every Sitsi and the story varies each time. Still the true story of Samling remains a mystery and the debate of the correct way of telling it rears on.

 

Shouting onto the Table and Performing:
Every single sitsfest participant is on the table at some point, either alone or in a group. Usually the performances are songs, either new lyrics to a familiar song or a song to involve the whole sitsfest, but a performance may also be a (short and snappy) speech, song-game or any other performance. Usually however the kind of performance one can perform from his or her own seat. After a performance the sitsfest thanks the performer(s) with applause and shouts.

 

Sitsfest Songs:
A normal sitsfest lasts anywhere from 2,5-4 hrs, during which anywhere from 20-40 songs may be sung, depending on the pace of the singing, the toastmaster(s) and the sitsfest participants. In order to make the singing easier there is almost without exception some kind of songbooklet or songbook available at the sitsfest.

 

Tips

  • get to know the people sitting next to you, shake their hand and introduce yourself and try to create an enjoyable environment at your sitsfest table
  • if you are shouted onto the table, make sure that your foothold is stable and that you don’t step on anyone’s food, or even worse, spill their drinks
  • distasteful yelling does not belong to a sitsfest
  • eat at any point you can, there doesn’t always seem to be enough time to eat between the songs
  • if you suspect the amount of drinks reserved by the host (usually an unnecessary worry) buy your own bottle. This guarantees an action-packed evening for you and your neighbours.
  • it’s best to visit the toilet at every break, just in case