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St. Andrews - "Raisin Monday"

The traditions of Raisin Monday extend back to the early days of the University. New students (bejants and bejantines) arriving at the university, would be assisted by senior students in adapting to university life. As a token of gratitude, after a few weeks of such assistance, the bejant(ine) would give his/her senior student (referred to as an academic parent) a pound of raisins ... an expensive and nutritious treat.

 St. Andrews - Raisin Receipt

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Receipts written on an old car and baby clothing were the lot of this group of bejant(ines)s. Other students can be seen approaching quad in their red gowns and carrying a variety of other receipts.

Kenneth Cochran,
civis tertianus huius illustris
Universitate Sancti Andreae
A te
Anne Calderwood
mea bejantine
Unam livram uvarum sicarum me accepisse pro qua multas gratias tibi ago
Ab universitate condita DLXVIII ano

The parchment version of a receipt. Translated to English it says ...

Kenneth Cochran,
a citizen in the third year of this illustrious University of Saint Andrews
From you Anne Calderwood my bejantine;
one pound of dried grapes received to me
for which many thanks I give you.
From the foundation of the the university 568 years.

As time went on, the habit of saying thank you in this way was sometimes neglected by the new students and so the bejant(ine)s were expected to carry a receipt written in Latin by their academic parents, acknowledging the receipt of the pound of raisins. Failure to produce such a receipt could result in a quick dousing in the local fountain for the hapless bejant(ine). Even if the student could produce a receipt it could be challenged for mistakes in the latin or even the date. This latter challenge is easy, as the date of the university's founding is open to question (Classes started in 1410, but the Papal Bull granting university status did not come until the following year).

As with all such traditions, time has changed the out workings of this tradition. The pound of raisins has been replaced by a bottle of wine, the receipt is written on anything. The dousing in the fountain is now replaced by a general riot in Quad, with shaving foam flying freely.

Luckier students will still receive a parchment copy of their receipt after Raisin Monday, and a trinket to attach to their red gown with a string braided with threads from the mortar board tassle of the academic mother.


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