After the public examination of the doctoral dissertation, the doctoral candidate may invite the Opponent and the Custos to lunch. Instead of or in addition to the post-doctoral party, which takes place in the evening, the doctoral candidate may also offer coffee and refreshments after the public examination.
The post-doctoral party is an academic tradition. The Finnish word for the celebration, karonkka, derives from the diminutive form (koronka) of the Russian word korona, which means ‘crown’. The Finnish term karonkka is thus related to the Russian word koronovanije, signifying ‘coronation’. The post-doctoral party marks the end of the dissertation process and is arranged by the doctoral candidate to thank the Opponent, the Custos and others who contributed to the work. Nowadays, doctoral candidates may invite friends and family along with members of the academic community to this party.
Invitations to the post-doctoral party
As formal decisions on the doctoral dissertation are not made until the conclusion of the public examination, invitations to the post-doctoral party were traditionally not sent in advance. In the past, the doctoral candidate contacted the Opponent before the public examination to enquire whether the doctoral candidate could make dinner arrangements, and after obtaining a positive response, the candidate "hinted" at the successful outcome to the guests to be invited. Nowadays, however, doctoral candidates send invitations in advance. Permission to defend the dissertation in a public examination, given by the Faculty, is sufficient indication of the quality of the dissertation. The doctoral candidates themselves formulate the wording of their invitations, but it is recommended that the invitations contain information on the dress code, especially if the doctoral candidate prefers the guests not to wear tailcoats and evening dresses, as is the custom, or wishes to suggest alternative styles of dress.
In addition to the Opponent and the Custos, the invitees to the post-doctoral party should include professors working in the field of the dissertation and others who have aided in the dissertation work. The additional opponents, that is, persons who ask questions or make comments at the public examination, were previously invited to the celebration, but, according to an unwritten rule, they were not to accept the invitation.
The post-doctoral party may be arranged at home, in a restaurant or in the facilities of a student association (osakunta) or one's own department.
Men usually wear a tailcoat and a white waistcoat (a black waistcoat at the public examination), while women wear an evening dress. The doctoral candidate wears a black evening dress. The traditional colour used in academic celebrations is black, but other colours have also become common. Instead of a tailcoat, men may wear dark suits, in which case women wear a short formal dress. Should the doctoral candidate wish the guests to wear some other style of dress, this should be stated in the invitation.
The doctoral candidate is the host or hostess of the party, and the Opponent is the guest of honour, seated immediately to the right of the doctoral candidate. If there are two opponents at the public examination, they will be seated on both sides of the doctoral candidate. The next guest in the seating order is the Custos, seated to the left of or opposite the doctoral candidate. The other guests then follow, usually in the order of their academic achievements.
The doctoral candidate offers food, drinks and possibly other forms of entertainment to the guests invited to the post-doctoral party. The candidate starts by welcoming all those present before dinner is served.
Speeches are made after the meal when coffee has been served. The doctoral candidate thanks the Opponent and others who have aided in the work. The Opponent's answer is usually light-heartedly dignified rather than too solemn or formal. Next, the Custos may address those present. After this, other guests may speak in the order in which they were mentioned in the doctoral candidate's address. If the doctoral candidate wishes to thank his or her family members, this should be done at the conclusion of the candidate's address.