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A Raisin to Remember

Raisin Weekend is an annual event at the University with the 2018 edition taking place in mid-October. Development intern, Daisy Sewell, blogs about her take on an ancient tradition. 

Unique, beloved and a little bit mad, Raisin is a St Andrews tradition like no other.  Today it is regarded as a means of forming a supportive and caring circle of friends who become your academic family, and an excuse for a weekend’s worth of town-wide celebration.  After scavenger hunts and family games on Raisin Sunday, first-years awoke on the Monday and prepared to take part in one of our most famous traditions.

To celebrate Raisin 2018, we thought it would be suitably nostalgic and entertaining to take a look into our archives at the Raisins of years gone by, the changing rituals, the infinite creativity in costume design and the continuous hilarity of this cherished tradition.

The weekend was given its name as academic children traditionally gave their ‘parents’ (or Senior Man/Woman) a pound of raisins, as a token of thanks for welcoming them into St Andrews. Originally, the Raisin Receipt was a letter written, usually in Latin, by the academic parent, testifying that their ‘child’ (bejant or bejantine) had paid them the required pound of raisins.  Today, the receipt can be anything that you and your siblings can carry to the Quad before the foam fight, another marker of the evolving nature of events.

My Raisin receipt was a can of diet coke.  This year, I watched a parent be carried to the Quad on a sofa.

Here we see the traditional raisin receipt, dating back to 1946.

Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library: ms38585-1-C-11-11 
Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library: ms38585-1-C-11-11

Raisin Monday in 1954, the bejants with their parents.

Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library:GMC-20-11-5 
Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library:GMC-20-11-5

Over the years, Raisin Monday has become an incredible display of fancy-dress, with the creativity of attire never ceasing to amaze. This photo from 1971 shows the beginnings of this element of Raisin.

Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library: AGC-51-60
Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library: AGC-51-60

Two Tunnock’s Caramel Wafers, ready for the Quad in 1999

Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library: PGA-7-51 
Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library: PGA-7-51

Over the years, the foam fight has become a quintessential component of Raisin Monday, as this photo from 2012 shows.

Credit: University of St Andrews
Credit: University of St Andrews

2017 saw the Loch Ness Monster take a trip to the foam fight

Credit: University of St Andrews
Credit: University of St Andrews

This year, costumes and Raisin Receipts were bigger and more impressive than ever.

Credit: University of St Andrews
Credit: University of St Andrews

The University of St Andrews is well known for upholding century-old traditions, no matter how bizarre they may appear to the outside world.  Raisin weekend is no exception.  The University’s alumni will surely remember their Raisin weekend and the chaotic hilarity they shared with their academic family, one bizarre weekend in an autumnal St Andrews.

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Join in the conversation and share your photos and memories of Raisin Weekend on our Facebook page

Want to know more about the history of Raisin?  Click here for more information. 

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