The annual ball (vuosijuhlat, vujut) is the most exquisite event of the year, which is reflected in both the dress code and the etiquette of the event. The etiquette is intended as a guideline, with the aim to help one to understand the traditions of celebrating the annual ball. The annual ball is a sophisticated celebration with its own traditions, and therefore it is important to get familiar with the etiquette beforehand. However, there is no need to overstress the compliance of small etiquette details, as the most important thing is to have fun and enjoy an unforgettable night.
The dress code for the annual ball is white tie.
According to the dress code, one can dress for the occasion in white tie, a dark suit, a ball gown, or a full-length evening gown. Academic ribbons and honorary badges are an important part of the dress code in academic events.
The evening gown shall be elegant, floor length and in a subtle color. The details and accessories of the gown are freely selectable with elegance in mind. If desired, the outfit can be complemented with jewellery, scarves or long gloves that cross the elbows. When wearing gloves, the rings are put under the gloves while bracelets and jewellery watches go on top. The evening bag should be suitable for the outfit, small and strapless (i.e. a clutch). While dining, the evening bag should be placed on ones lap instead of the table.
Open long hair is not part of the annual ball celebration. Hair that extends over the shoulders should be nicely pinned up.
Tuxedo or other variations are not an alternative to the white tie according to the etiquette. White tie includes a black tail coat, silk sidebands in trousers, a white vest, a chest-hardened white upright shirt, a white knot, simple cuffs, black socks and patent leather shoes. A white pocket handkerchief can be used with white tie.
A wristwatch is not included in a white tie as the correct option is a pocket watch.
As an alternative, gentlemen can opt for a dark suit. The dark suit must be more festive than a regular weekday suit (i.e. a two or three piece suit). The suit should be patternless and black, very dark grey or deep dark blue in color. The pocket handkerchief and shirt of the party dress are white. Tie should be subtle in color and moderate in its possible pattern. The black patternless tie is mainly used for funerals, so best to avoid a black tie for the annual ball. Shoes are black ribbon shoes.
With an evening gown, the ribbon is worn as a rosette. The rosette should be placed on the left side of the chest so that it does not touch bare skin. The ladies are welcome to opt to wear the ribbon as a sash, worn from the left shoulder crossing the chest to the right hip.
With white tie, the ribbon is worn as a sash. The sash is worn from the right shoulder crossing the chest to the left hip. With a tailcoat, the ribbon is worn under the vest, and with a dark suit, the sash is worn over the vest and tie.
More instructions on the academic ribbon can be found here.
Academic honorary badges
Academic honorary badges are carried on the left front of the suit. One does not use a pocket handkerchief with merit badges and international medals.
The course of the evening will be guided by toastmasters.
The main event will begin with the greeting of the toastmasters (vuosijuhlamarsalkkojen tervehdys), where the process of the evening is explained and an opening toast is raised.
The toastmasters serve as the song directors and begin academic drinking songs, to which the guests join. Proposing songs to toastmasters can be done during conferences, not when the event is ongoing.
Toastmasters can be recognized from their black ribbon.
Conferences (i.e. breaks)
It is not advisable to leave the event unless a conference (aka a break) takes place. The start of the conferences are announced by the marshals.
During dessert, the atmosphere will gradually get a little bit more relaxed, and it’s time for everyone to fold themselves “cognac ears” (konjakkikorvat) from their napkin!
Here’s how to fold konjakkikorvat:
1. Fold the edges of your square napkin in the middle so that the width of the napkin should be one-third of the original.
2. Turn the cloth over by placing the fold you just made against the table.
3. Fold the cloth in half so that you have folded your cloth back into a square shape. All corners should now be on the same edge.
4. Grasp all the corners with your fingers and pull them apart.
5. Turn the opened cloth upside down and place it on your head.
Course of the evening
1. Cocktail hour
The official part of the annual celebrations consists of an evening party, preceded by a free-form cocktail event. During this time, you can tune into the festive atmosphere with cocktails, chatting with acquaintances, and immortalizing your own and the party club’s annual celebrations at a photography point. It is not appropriate to be late for an evening party, so you must arrive well in advance.
2. The main event
The main part of the annual ball includes a dinner, speeches, performances, granting of rewards, and singing songs.
The seating plan has been made beforehand, so upon arriving you should find your own seat with the help of the host/hostess. When seated it is polite to introduce yourself and your avec to the fellow guests on your table.
During speeches and other performances, dining and chatting should be paused in order to appreciate the marshals and speakers. During the official program, you should not leave the banquet room, except if there is a conference (a.k.a a break) or you need to powder your nose. If you feel the need to leave the dinner table before a conference, it should be done without disturbing others. Bear in mind that during a speech, one should never leave or return to the banquet hall. When the lady gets up, the gentleman will get up and help her with the chair.
The toastmasters will inform you when the conferences take place.
It is also courteous to wait until everyone at your table has been served before starting to eat. However, a warm main course may be started when the guests next to you have also been served. The dinner includes drinks, but in case you wish to have more to drink, there is an on-site bar ready to serve you.
On the tables, you can find electronic songbooks, and a toast always follows a song. The gentlemen raise their glass first to the guest on their right side, then on the left, and lastly to the front, whereas the ladies do the opposite order, that is, to the left, to the right, and lastly to the front. Notice that the glasses are not supposed to tinkle, but it is polite to look the other guest in the eyes while toasting. Remember that it is against the etiquette to toast with an empty glass, so always save a little drink in your glass to be able to toast.
3. The after party
After the main event, the night will continue in the form of an after-party. Feel free to change into your party attire and dance the night away!
As we say in Finland: uuteen nousuun! For many, sillis is the best part of the annual ball and it definitely is a mandatory part of the celebrations. Beginning before noon, sillis includes partying, dancing, drinking games, and eating. You do not want to miss this. The dress code for sillis is simple: just wear your overalls!