A drink. At home. In your underwear. And there is a word for it.

This past year, Finland’s Tourism Board put together a dictionary (complete with accompanying emojis you can download) of “hard-to-describe Finnish emotions, words, and customs.” Included in the list of 56 phrases is kalsarikännit (pronounced cal-sar-y-cuhn-eet). It describes the “feeling when you are going to get drunk home alone in your underwear — with no intention of going out. 

So yes, there is a word for drinking at home in your underwear, and apparently the English translation of the word is pantsdrunk.

Here’s the announcement:

Helsinki Literary is handling rights for the book Pantsdrunk, which celebrates the Finnish cultural phenomenon known as pantsdrunk. The activity entails drinking alone at home, wearing only underwear, in order to relax and unwind. World English rights have sold to HarperCollins in the U.S. (at auction) and German rights sold (also at auction) to Goldmann. Deals for the book have been made in several other countries. Pantsdrunk will be released early next year in Finland by Schildts & Söderströms. The author, a Finnish journalist, has published a number of works of nonfiction.

So I wonder if kalsarikännit is part of the secret to what makes the Finnish people so happy (Finland is currently ranked the fifth happiest country in the world). Maybe it’s how they get through those long, cold, dark winters.

Here’s a couple other words from the dictionary:

PERKELE: The mother of all Finnish swearwords. Literally means the devil but at the same time it means so much more. You can make the curse longer and more effective by rolling the ‘r’.

SUOMI MAINITTU!: The feeling when someone mentions Finland abroad.
Finns are always excited when someone – anyone – mentions Finland abroad. When you come to Finland, be prepared to tell what you think about Finland and Finns.

SISU: The feeling of perseverance. In Finland, as the saying goes, we ‘go through even a grey rock.’ Arctic nature has given us guts – or ‘sisu’ as we call it. It’s about not giving in – even when it might be wiser to do so.

MOOMINMAMMA: Unconditional love. Moominmamma is a calm and collected mother who never lets little things get on her nerves. She ensures that the Moominhouse is always a safe and loving place – both for her family and for visitors. No-one is ever unhappy in Moominmamma’s company: she’s always ready to help and console.

PESÄPALLO: The feeling of love and hate. You either love or hate it, the Finnish baseball.

LAVATANSSIT: The feeling of finding someone. Somewhere, maybe in the middle of nowhere, in a village or beside a lake, people find each other and dance tango and other even more mysterious dances. They get dressed up, go out, and dance the summer evenings away, moving counterclockwise around a dance pavilion as the band plays old favourites and new.

I hope those engaged in kalsarikännit will consider trying lavatanssit at some point. They may decide still prefer getting drunk in their underwear, but they might find out they like dancing the tango, counterclockwise of course.

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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