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Life > Experiences

Academic Wedding Season! A Recap Of Raisin Traditions For Upcoming Freshers. 

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at St. Andrews chapter.

As April blossoms in St Andrews, there is one thing on everyone’s minds and Instagram feeds – its academic wedding season! Maybe you have set a date for the wedding. Perhaps you are happily engaged. Or maybe you are still seeking the perfect person to start your family with next semester. If you are anything like me then you are patiently waiting for your friend to get down on one knee with a Haribo ring. (If you read this Scott, hurry up!) While an obviously exciting time for soon-to-be mothers and fathers, upcoming freshers have a whole weekend of tradition to look forward to. 

As the third oldest university in the English-speaking world, St Andrews is not short of traditions, some of which have been passed down over centuries. From participating in the Gaudie – a procession in red gowns to honour the late John Honey of 1800 who saved passengers of the doomed Janet of Macduff, to avoid the curse of the PH outside Sallies Quad (I still to this day have never dared step on it) and May dipping half naked and half-cut on East Sands. Nothing, however, is quite as memorable (or not so memorable) as your raisin weekend in the first year. 

Our traditions have stood the test of time, but admittedly they have had a little reshaping. While Raisin stretches back way before my time here, traditions once looked a far cry from being taken from your halls at 5 am and hot-wired to the beach blindfolded. When I say hot wired I do mean literally. Was there not that story of the academic children being transported to East Sands in the back of a van? Who knows the truth? Raisin was once a sophisticated ordeal with Latin scripts and gifted raisins shared between chosen ‘bejants’ and ‘bejantines’ (first years) and their senior parents. Parents would even invite their children around for tea parties. However, in saying this, raisin was cancelled for 3 years in the 1930s after some pranks from male students went too far. So I guess the very essence of raisin has always laid with its potential for debauchery. 

Let’s just say I was never given a Latin script or raisins on my raisin Sunday. While I was not physically awoken at my door or put in the back of a van, chopping a beer in the north sea at 7 am and the cold-boiled egg were certainly new experiences. Raisin Sunday typically starts with games and drinks on the beach, followed by a family breakfast, a scavenger hunt in the afternoon, followed by the world’s most satisfying nap and a last dance on your parents’ sofa. Do not take my word as a running order of events, however. I fear my academic husband may want to send our kids out of St Andrews. On Monday, with the hangover from whatever alcohol was consumed from the back of third years’ kitchen cabinets, a foam fight commences on Lower College Lawn, with children dressed up by their parents. Colin the caterpillar costumes were a firm favourite from my year. 

While you will hear some outlandish Raisin stories – some works of fiction and others comically true, the very spirit of Raisin is making friends and having a good time. Academic families can be huge, consisting of children, parents, grandparents, cousins… the list goes on. Do beware of those parents who will try to get with you. Academic incest is real. Additionally, while alcohol is heavily involved, it should be noted that it isn’t always so. Many families are sober ones, or at least appoint sober reps to take care of children. Always put yourself first when choosing a family and make sure that you click with them. As a mother, I personally am going to throw the most lavish dinner parties, while my academic husband is probably going to drown our kids in a yellow-tail pinot grigio. But hey, academic families are about balance.

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Katie Barioti

St. Andrews '25

I am in my second year studying International Relations and English at the University of St Andrews. My time at university thus far has left me wanting to pursue a potential career in investigative journalism as I am especially interested in current affairs and international politics.