Raisin Monday is a tradition which endures as much in 2016 as it has done in the past. Ellen MacDougall, Visitor Services Facilitator at MUSA and PhD student in the School of Classics gives an account of her experiences of being part of an Academic Family at the University of St Andrews.
One of the most well-known traditions of student life here in St Andrews is Raisin Weekend which celebrates the tradition of academic families. At the beginning of the academic year, new first year students are ‘adopted’ by a third or fourth year undergraduate student into an academic family, with many students (myself included) going on to form enduring and lifelong friendships with members of their academic families.
The highlight for many academic families is Raisin Weekend. Traditionally, first year students (or bejants/bejantines) would present their academic parents with a pound of raisins in gratitude. Historically, students lived on a very basic diet and raisins would have been regarded as quite a luxurious and generous gift. In more recent years, this gift has taken on more alternative forms – some of my academic children gave me a pound of chocolate raisins, for example!
The culmination of Raisin Weekend is Raisin Monday – today! On Raisin Monday, academic children are dressed up in fancy dress costumes by their academic mothers and presented with a Raisin Receipt by their academic fathers – you can see an example of a Raisin Receipt in our Living and Learning Gallery here in MUSA alongside a student manual for Raisin Weekend. A Raisin Receipt is an awkwardly shaped object with a Latin phrase on it which confirms that the academic child has presented their academic parents with raisins (or equivalent!) Costumes and receipts come in all sorts of weird and wonderful shapes and sizes – I was part of an amazing cardboard Loch Ness monster while my academic children were dressed up as Buzz Lightyear and Woody from Toy Story and garden gnomes, complete with garden cane fishing rod! The academic children process through the town with their costumes and receipts before taking part in a gigantic shaving foam fight on the lawn behind St Salvator’s Quad. While the tradition itself has evolved through the years, academic families and Raisin Monday remain a key part of welcoming new students into the St Andrews community.