Ceremonial Conferment Banquet

After the service, the doctors have a few hours to rest before the Ceremonial Conferment Banquet begins. In 1995, the grand banquet began at 7pm in the Student House. Curious crowd had gathered in front of the building to watch as the guests in evening dress started to arrive. The most expected honorary guest, the First Lady Alli Paasikivi, arrived to the Student House at 7.15pm in her white brocade dress.

There were nearly five hundred guests, so it is clear that the halls of the Student House which usually feel so spacious were quite cramped. Upon entering, each guest received a blue menu and programme leaflet which had a numbered table chart in the back cover and the person’s name and seating. With this arrangement and with the heralds’ keen and flexible help, the hundreds of guests were seated effortlessly and quickly. The hall was beautifully decorated with laurel trees and the colourful, finely-dressed group created a festive atmosphere. The order of food at the Banquet was following: cauliflower stock – croquettes with fish and mushroom filling – veal fillet with asparagus and other vegetables – ice cream decorated with spun sugar and fruit – coffee. Finnish sparkling wine was served with the dinner and cognac and liqueur with the coffee.

The Rector of the University Osmo Järvi welcomed the guests and described the conferment tradition in Turku in a light-hearted manner:

Although our celebration is quite modest compared with those that were held in Turku in the past. In the last Ceremonial Conferment of the old Academy in 1827, a dinner and a ball were organised for 700 people in the evening of the Conferment Ceremony, and we had trouble to place 450 guests. We have also faced difficulties in following all the amassed conferment traditions in the execution of the conferment events.

On the other hand, not all the traditions are very old and there might be a reason, at least here in Turku, to return in part to the forms that were followed in the old Academy. For example, in the 18th century, the Ceremonial Conferment lasted only for one day, although it cannot be denied that many continued the celebration independently to the next day. We have returned to the old tradition up to a point in substituting the Doctor Ultimus’s speech to the guests and the Master Ultimus’s speech to the ladies with one general welcome speech, "tacksägelsetalet”, in which the topic is freer, like in the 18th century. We also follow old traditions in that no more than six courses of food are offered, which sits well with modern understanding of maintaining our health. Despite our enthusiasm, we did not want to go so far back in time that we would have, in the style of the 1600s, forbade the ladies to attend the celebration.

In 1955, the banquet proceeded inspired by the speeches almost until midnight. It ended with a ball that lasted long to the small hours.

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