On Raisins

10 years ago I was enjoying my real induction into life as a bejantine (StAndrean for first year girl). I had gone through Freshers’ week, and matriculation, and the first weeks of classes, but none of that compared with real initiation that is Raisin Weekend.

Raisin Weekend is an odd, old St Andrews tradition, which takes place in November every year. First year students are adopted by tertians (third years) or magistrands (fourth years), on the understanding that these esteemed elders will care for and guide their offspring through life at the university. Back in the day children would give a pound of raisins to their parents (hence the name of the weekend), these days a bottle of wine is a more common gift.These ‘family’ relationships can, and sometimes do, last a lifetime, but for most people the majority of effort revolves around that one November weekend.

On the Sunday of Raisin Weekend, bejants and bejantines leave their halls of residence, after having their name and hall written on their arm in permanent marker (a crude ‘return to sender’, if you will). They head off to their mother’s house for an afternoon tea party (usually with a distinct lack of tea involved), followed by a soirée at their father’s house (also very little tea present).

On Monday morning the children get up and head off to Mother’s house again to be dressed in some sort of peculiar costume, and then off to Father’s to receive their Raisin Receipt: usually, something awkward and large (and possibly stolen) with the following Latin written upon it:

Ego civis (name of parent), tertianus/a (if you’re a third year) or magistrandus/a (fourth year) huius celeberrimae universitatis Sancti Andreae, qui (father’s degree subject) studeo, a te (child’s name), meo/a bejanto/ina carissimo/a qui (child’s degree subject) student, unam libram uvarum siccarum accepisse affirmo pro qua multas gratias tibi ago.

Which means something along the lines of:

I, (name of parent) a third year/fourth year fellow member of this celebrated university of St Andrews who with great natural ability and toil studies (father’s degree subject), gives this to you, (child’s name) my beloved bejant, of tired and invalided mind, who studies (child’s degree subject), and as thanks for this will accept from you one pound of raisins.


After receiving the gift, the children are paraded through town and along to the quad, where they relinquish their receipts to the Fife Constabulary who are waiting with a skip, and head on inside the quad to take part in a massive shaving foam fight.

(source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-24809376)

Totally and utterly bizarre. Very, very cold. But so fun.

I don’t have any photos of my own Raisin Weekend experience (a pre-digital era, ken?) but I have found a few of my own children (Charlie, Neil, Lauren, and Zoe) for your entertainment:

In summary: ten years.

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