This Finnish Relaxation Practice Includes Drinking at Home Alone In Your Underwear

published Feb 18, 2017
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Welcome to Scandi Week—Apartment Therapy’s seven-day focus on all-things Scandinavia (often defined as the countries of Sweden, Denmark, and Norway). Sometimes it seems like the whole world is obsessed with trying to copy this corner of the globe, from its timeless style aesthetic to its now-famous coziness rituals. For the next week, we’ll take a look at all of it—cleaning, pop culture, and of course tons of eye-popping design inspiration. Pull up a blanket and get hygge with us.
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Move over, hygge: the Danes and their happy vibes don’t have a monopoly on coziness. We must only look to Finland to find a compound word that is arguably the most realistic form of relaxation.

You can thank Finland for putting a name to a routine we’ve all engaged in at some point. The word is kalsarikänni, and it roughly translates to “pantsdrunk,” as in the practice of drinking home alone in your underwear with no intention of going out for the evening.

The concept has been around for ages, but the term first appeared in print in the 1990s, and started gaining steam in the early aughts, Miska Rantanen, director of the Norra Haga Party Institute, notes in his recently released book, Päntsdrunk. And while older generations of Finns think the term has a negative connotation, younger people are embracing it as a way to fully unwind.

For a pantsdrunk session, Rantanen writes that all you need are “pleasant or at least tolerable physical surroundings, an appropriate amount of alcohol, leisurewear, one diversionary device, and a blood-sugar-raising agent.” Simple enough.

Since “the goal [of pantsdrunk] is an authentic, honest, and present state of existence,” and not to get wasted, it is not meant to be an everyday practice, and the same results can be achieved sans alcohol (don’t underestimate the power of good snacks, cozy socks, and bad TV).

The Finns not only have a word for this habit, but it’s such a way of life that they created an emoji for it in 2015:

How you kalsarikänni. (Image credit: ThisisFINLAND)

Look how happy these emoji people are! Kalsarikänni isn’t something to be ashamed of, like there was nothing better going on, so you’re home alone against your will. Oh no, it’s a plan you chose—because sometimes you just need to spend some time with yourself in your skivvies and sip a nice Cabernet. Sounds like self care to me.

Other country-specific emojis from Finland include: baby in a box (something nearly all Finnish babies experience), kokko (the feeling of being on fire), sisu (the feeling of perseverance), headbanger (there are more heavy metal bands per capita in Finland than anywhere else), and of course, sauna. There’s even one for Tom of Finland (and it’s totally SFW). Browse all 54 if you’re so inclined.

There’s a very special type of satisfaction that comes from finding a word that describes a highly specific habit or emotion—like someone, somewhere really understands your true self. Science of Us rounds up ten such words, including amae, Japanese for “leaning on someone’s goodwill” in a supremely trusting way (aww), which can be alternately translated as, “behaving like a spoiled child” (oof). There’s also awumbuk, which those in Papua New Guinea use to describe “the feeling of emptiness after visitors depart.”

Kalsarikänni (pronounced kal-SAHR-can-ni) is one of those words—it just speaks to our soul.

Updated from a post originally published 2/18/2017 – TB