Sunday, November 25, 2007

Happy Raisin Sunday, 2007!

Happy Raisin Sunday!

Raisin Sunday is a tradition here at St. Andrews that has evolved over the years...
Rather than type out the traditions, etc, I am stealing the article from The Sinner:

Raisin Weekend is centered around the unique St Andrews tradition of the "academic family".

Each first year (or at least those who choose to take part - it is not compulsory) is adopted by an academic mother and academic father - who are usually, but not always, in their third or fourth year. In one form or another, Raisin Weekend has been around since the very earliest days of the university. It was, and still is, a "rite of passage" for new students.

On Raisin Sunday, first years spend the day with their academic parents. First of all, they attend a tea party with their mother at which, traditionally, not much tea but a great deal of alcohol is consumed. Later, the children are collected by their fathers and the evening is spent in the drinking of yet more alcohol.

In return for their parents' kindnesses, the first year is expected to give them each a bottle of wine. This is deemed the modern equivalent of a pound of raisins (actually, the modern equivalent of a pound of raisins IS a pound of raisins) which was the usual gift way back in the mists of time when students had a bland diet (has this changed much?)

On the following day (handily called Raisin Monday) and after being woken up, sobered up, cleaned up, and dressed up in outlandish clothes, freshers are presented with their Raisin Receipts. These are written in Latin and is a way of acknowledging the gift of raisins. They always used to be on parchment. Nowadays, almost certainly, the receipt will be something large, embarrassing and cumbersome which has to be carried around.

The gift-giving does not end here. Academic mothers give each of their children "Raisin Strings" with a small gift attached. The gift or "favour" is supposed to reflect the personality of the child. The number of Raisin Strings depends on the status of the mother. It is one string per year of matriculation - blue for first year, crimson for second, gold for third and black for fourth. These strings, with gift still attached, will eventually be tied to the child's gown hooks.

After all this largesse, children are paraded through the town until they arrive at Sallies Quad. En route, third years, fourth years and graduates of the university (if they are wearing their gowns) can stop any fresher and examine their Raisin Receipt. If they find a mistake in it then they can demand that the Gaudeamus be sung as punishment. Once at Sallies Quad, between 11 and 12 o'clock, a foam fight nearly always breaks out - it's almost traditional. The striking of 12 o'clock means the end of the fun for another year, and sees students slowly drifting off. Parents perhaps to have photos developed. Freshers, almost certainly, to sleep.

So, there you have it. Last year I had 20 children, 10 sons, and 10 daughters (no I did not pair them up, although Academic Incest is widespread within the University) - this is allowed since Medics are technically one year ahead - we do a 4-year degree in 3 years, so in first year we are taking 2nd year class, in second year we're in 2rd year, etc...

It was a lot of fun, but this year as Big Grandpappy AMiB, I will be party-hopping, trying to enjoy myself while making sure no one dies from alcohol poisoning.