Right after the saddening news from Sweden came last week, we had a long-anticipated sittning for our juniors at work. When we arrived to the venue, which is our workplace, people had placed a candle and flowers in front of the house. Talk about bad timing.
I was the toast madame for the evening. Until a day before, I had not entirely grasped what that job entails. The last time I was toast madame, I only had to announce the speakers briefly. This time, Lil’ Pesto said, “You are the toast madame. You are responsible for the entire entertainment!” Ångesten alltså. When he noticed I was reluctant, he added, “You can make all your jokes at my expense as I am the sånganförärare [song leader]”. That already sounded a little better. Twenty-four hours later, I had jotted down a list of funny things about him, myself and the speaker of the evening. In light of the Stockholm events, I opened the dinner declaring the hashtag #prayforstockholm as replaced with #partyforstockholm.
What is a sittning?
Basically sittning is a dinner party which usually includes a three-course meal. But it’s not just like any normal dinner as it involves specific traditions and rules that need to be followed. One core element of a sittning is singing. During the dinner everyone gets shots. You are only supposed to take a sip of your shot after singing a drinking song. During the dinner there are certain rules to follow. When toastmasters, the hosts of the evening, step on stage and start talking, the audience has 3 seconds to be silent (5 if there is some serious flirting going on with your table partner). You are only allowed to leave the table during breaks and you are always supposed to sit next to the opposite sex. The dress-code varies from sittning to sittning. Ours was udda kavaj which means dress up but don’t go to very large pains. At the end of every sittning it is customary for everyone to stand on his or her chair and sing “O gamla klang och jubeltid.” Just stand in place for a bit to gather your faculties, and slowly step up, using the chair and table as leverage. Maintain your balance, and sing. Once the song is over, so is the sittning, and you’re not supposed to take your seat at the table again. Instead, you go dance.
The event was a smashing success! Considering that we do not have a proper stove or enough forks or real tablecloths at the office but instead were equipped with neon lighting in the conference room and a very tight budget, that’s quite something. Our volunteers who arranged the evening with us did a brilliant job and Lil’ Pesto got everyone to sing like larks. Even my toast madame mission went well, getting better with every sip of Hallands fläder. Vindruvsrankan, Helan går, Det var i vår ungdoms fagraste år – It was almost like being back at Värmlands/Göteborgs/Smålands/younameit nation in my student days – opening little Swedish enclaves in Germany, bascially what the job’s all about.