All posts by Josefiina Järä

“Kursailu” Finnish formal socially-established behavior

Imagine this. You are at a party and there’s food. A lot of food. Over 15 different type of sweet and salty. You are looking at the table filled with your favorites. You are having these huge cravings and you are eagerly waiting for your turn. But wait! No one is taking the food even though it was announced five minutes ago to help yourselves. What’s wrong?

Well nothing! Obviously, you are at a party, filled with Finnish people, and they do it every time. It’s called “kursailu” in Finnish. There isn’t a translation for it. Closest definition might be ceremony as a formal socially-established behavior. Behavior itself differs from other cultures. As far as I know.

Basically “Kursailu” is a strange way of behavior. The food is served, and it has been announced that quests can help themselves. No- one wants to be the first one to make a move. Some odd way it is considered being rude. If you are the first, you might seem greedy and bad mannered.

Since, nobody wants to be impolite and be the first, we have unwritten rules for that. Usually elderly people are the first ones. If there is someone, who is being celebrated, he or she is the first one. In christening and confirmation godparents are priority. Big parties, where there is over 30 persons, they go table by table in order. Usually the host is the last one to take, unless she or he is being celebrated for. If you are at a Finnish party and don’t know what to do, just follow the lead. Don’t be the first one!

There’s a tiny pit of Finnishness now shared with you dear readers! Hope you have great fall 2018!