Finnish for busy people

Events Celebrations – Always Plural Finnish Words – Plurale Tantum

“Plurale tantum” words are words that are always plural, despite their meaning being singular. You have these words in many languages, such as “scissors” and “pants” in English.

In Finnish, many celebrations, events and ceremonies are “plurale tantum” words. It doesn’t, however, mean that all celebrations are referred to in the plural. For example, Christmas is the singular joulu, while pre-Christmas parties can be the plural pikkujoulut. We’re using the T-plural as the basic form for these words, but they do inflect in all the plural cases!

This article is part of a larger series on plurale tantum words. You can also check out Wiktionary’s alphabetic plurale tantum word list.


Table of Contents
  1. Large scale events and celebrations
    1. Festivals
    2. Political events and elections
    3. Formal events and ceremonies
    4. Sport competitions
    5. Other larger scale events
  2. Smaller scale evens and celebrations
    1. Family celebrations
    2. Gatherings with friends and neighbors
    3. School and work events
    4. Informal dance parties
    5. Traditional events and celebrations

1. Large Scale Events and Celebrations

The following categories all have in common that there is a large number or a mass of people participating in them at the same time. Exactly how large the number of participants is depends on the event. Usually a lot of the people involved are strangers to each other.

1.1. Festivals

Finnish English
festivaalit festival
festarit festival
elokuvajuhlat film festival
elokuvafestivaalit film festival
filmifestivaalit film festival
filmijuhlat film festival
rockfestarit rock festival
oopperafestivaalit opera festival
oopperajuhlat opera festival
herättäjäjuhlat annual Christian Awakening summer festival

1.2. Political Events and Elections

Finnish English
kuntavaalit municipal election
kunnallisvaalit municipal election
hallitusvaalit governmental election, election of the board of directors
parlamenttivaalit parliamentary election
eduskuntavaalit parliamentary election
presidentinvaalit presidential election
kirkollisvaalit church election
seurakuntavaalit church election
EU-vaalit election of the European Parliament
eurovaalit election of the European Parliament
vaalivalvojaiset political party event when the votes are being counted
protestivaalit election with a lot of protest votes
hallitusneuvottelut government formation negotiations
rauhanneuvottelut peace talks, peace negotiations

1.3. Formal Events and Ceremonies

Finnish English
avajaiset formal opening ceremony
open house ‑kutsut cocktail- tm. tilaisuus, which guests can arrive to when they see fit
cocktailkutsut cocktail party
kokkarit cocktail party (spoken)
vastaanottajaiset reception, social (formal) welcoming event
illallistanssiaiset ballroom dance party including a banquet
iltakutsut social gathering starting in the evening, soiree
juhlapäivälliset banquet, formal ceremonial dinner
konserttitanssiaiset charity dance party with a large orchestra
paljastajaiset reveal ceremony, event held to reveal e.g. a statue
julkistajaiset social event at the launch of something (e.g. book)
virkaanasettajaiset ceremony of placing someone into office, inauguration (pope, professor, president)
virkaanastujaiset ceremony of placing someone into office
rikkojaiset event during which a record is attempted to be broken
kruunajaiset coronation ceremony

1.4. Sport Competitions

Finnish English
olympialaiset the Olympics
olympialaiskisat the Olympic games
olympiakisat the Olympic games
kesäolympialaiset summer Olympics
talviolympialaiset winter Olympics
talvikisat winter Olympics
paralympialaiset Paralympics
hiihtokilpailut cross-country skiing competition
hiihtokisat cross-country skiing competition
ravikilpailut horse (harness) racing event
ravit horse (harness) racing event
kuninkuusravit harness racing contest for Finnhorse breed horses
iltaravit horse racing event held in the evening

1.5. Other Larger Scale Events

Finnish English
asuntomessut trade fair about houses and home decorations
arpajaiset raffle, lottery (of things or money)
raha-arpajaiset lottery draw with monetary prizes
joulumarkkinat Christmas fair, Christmas market
joulumyyjäiset Christmas market (usually with home-made thing, can be a fundraiser)
myyjäiset rummage sale of home-made or donated items, usually fundraiser
maistajaiset tasting event
viininmaistajaiset wine tasting event
silakkamarkkinat an annual fair where Baltic herring is sold (link)

2. Smaller Scale Events and Celebrations

The following events and celebrations have a smaller number of participants, though the exact amount differs per events. Generally, the participants know one another. They might belong to the same family, social circle or environment.

2.1. Family Celebrations

Finnish English
ristiäiset christening, baptism ceremony and party
nimiäiset baby’s naming ceremony (link)
polttarit bachelor party, bachelorette party (link)
kihlajaiset engagement party
vihkiäiset wedding ceremony
kirkkovihkiäiset wedding ceremony in church
siviilivihkiäiset wedding ceremony at the registry office
häät wedding
kirkkohäät church wedding, white wedding
hopeahäät 25th wedding anniversary, silver wedding
kultahäät 50th wedding anniversary, golden wedding
timanttihäät 60th wedding anniversary, diamond wedding
kaksoishäät double wedding
syntymäpäivät birthday party
synttärit birthday party (spoken)
syntymäpäiväkutsut birthday party
nimipäiväkekkerit name day party (link)
ruumiinvalvojaiset deathwatch, wake for deceased person
hautajaiset funeral

2.2. Gatherings with friends and neighbors

Finnish English
tupaantuliaiset housewarming party
pullakahvit gathering , event where coffee and pastries are offered
känttykahvit gathering , event where coffee and pastries are offered
kahvikestit gathering , event where coffee and pastries are offered
kahvikutsut gathering , event where coffee and pastries are offered
kotikutsut home party
istujaiset small and intimate social gathering, get-together
illanistujaiset small and intimate social gathering in the evening
illatsut small and intimate social gathering in the evening
varpaiset home gathering with friends right after a baby is born
varpajaiset home gathering with friends right after a baby is born
nyyttikestit potluck gathering (guests bring food to share) (link)
nyyttärit potluck gathering (guests bring food to share) (spoken)
ruokapidot social gathering where food is being offered
rääppiäiset leftovers party after a large event
valvojaiset event where people stay awake (new year, elections)
pikkujoulut pre-Christmas party (link)
lastenkutsut playdate
herrakutsut social gathering with only men invited
naamiaiset masquerade, masked ball
pikatreffit speed date
sokkotreffit blind date
senssit date with a lover or potential lover
syystalkoot joined effort of locals to clean up neighborhood in autumn
siivoustalkoot joined effort of locals to clean up neighborhood (link)
talkootanssit dance held at the end of a joined effort
kirkkokahvit coffee meeting in or relating to a church
kissanristiäiset many trivial, pointless events in a row
syömingit big feast with lots to eat
juomingit drinking party (lots of alcohol)
ryyppäjäiset drinking party (lots of alcohol)

2.3. School and Work Events

Finnish English
penkinpainajaiset celebration of final day of study at a high school (link)
penkkarit celebration of final day of study at a high school (spoken)
lakkiaiset high school graduation party in the evening
vanhojentanssit fancy high school sophmore dance event (link)
valmistujaiset general term for graduation parties
päättäjäiset closing ceremony; graduation ceremony
lopettajaiset closing ceremony; graduation ceremony
väittäjäiset public debate where a doctoral candidate defends his thesis towards an opponent
päättäjäiskekkerit party held after a doctoral defense
kamppiaiset party held after a doctoral defense
harjannostajaiset party for construction workers when a house has been completely built (link)
harjakaiset party for construction workers when a house has been completely built
kaupantekiäiset celebration held to celebrate a finished trade or purchase
lähtiäiset farewell party
läksiäiset farewell party
erojaiset farewell party
läksiäiskahvit social event with coffee to honor someone leaving

2.4. Informal Dance Parties

Finnish English
tanssit event where there is dancing
bileet party (spoken)
bailut party with dancing (spoken)
hipat party (spoken)
kotihipat home party (spoken)
hilut party (spoken)
kekkerit party, kegger
kemut party (e.g. teenagers, getting drunk)
keimit party (spoken)
karkelot party with dancing (spoken)
jortsut dance party (spoken)
pippalot party (spoken)
pirskeet party (spoken)
reivit rave party (all night dance party filled with electronic dance music)
ravet rave party
teknobileet techno party
jamit jam session
riekkujaiset negative term for noisy, destructive parties

2.5. Traditional Events and Celebrations

Finnish English
juhannustanssit dance event held around Midsummer Day
lavatanssit ballroom dance, often partly outside at Midsummer
latotanssit dance event held in a barn
päivätanssit daytime dance event
rapujuhlat crayfish party (link)
rapukestit crayfish party
tappajaiset event to celebrate a kill (such as of game)
siantappajaiset event celebrating the kill of a pig
peijaiset event celebrating the kill of an animal (link)
karhunpeijaiset event celebrating the kill of a bear

That’s it for this vocabulary list of plurale tantum words that refer to events, celebrations and parties. Hopefully this list helps you on your road to mastering Finnish. Next, find out more about:

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