A commercium is a traditional academic feast known at universities in most Central and Northern European countries. In German it is called a Kommers or Commers. Today it is still organised by student fraternities in Germanic and Baltic countries, as well as Poland.
At a commercium tables often are placed in the form of a U or a W, the participants drink beer and sing commercium songs. There are strict and traditional rules that govern this occasion but it may also integrate theatrical and musical aspects. A commercium is the more formal form of the tableround, called Kneipe in German.
The term is derived from French Commerce and had been used for any sort of noisy event. A Commers gathering consists of speeches, toasts and songs, sometimes arranged pranks as well. The drink of preference is beer. The arrangements are governed by officials (Chargierte) elected by the members of the Studentenverbindung. The sort of event started to be more formalized after 1871. German associations like firefighters or Schützenvereine started to arrange commerciums in the 19th century and still do on special occasions.
Some special customs include a salamander or Landesvater. The guests rise and having emptied their glasses hammer three times on the table with them. On the death of a student, his memory may be honored with a Trauercommers. The operetta The Student Prince made German students' drinking habits famous during the prohibition, and the rousing chorus of "Drink! Drink! Drink!" was especially popular with US theatergoers in 1924. In the last years of communist Eastern Germany, some students managed to arrange for new founded fraternities, e.g. Salana Jenensis in Jena and organized commerciums on the Rudelsburg.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Commers". Encyclopædia Britannica. 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 774.
- "Duden entry Kommers".
- Kommunikationsraum Szenekneipe: Annäherung an ein Produkt der Erlebnisgesellschaft (in German). Springer-Verlag. 2013-11-11. ISBN 9783663080718.
- Kurt U. Bertrams (ed.): Studentenverbindungen in der DDR. WJK-Verlag Hilden 2006