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Raisin: The Weirdest of St Andrews’ Traditions

I’m back with more St Andrews student traditions! This time it’s all about Raisin!

Academic families

Let’s start at the beginning. St Andrews has a tradition of academic families. It sounds weird I know, but it’s basically to make it easier to integrate the university, to give you mentors, friends, etc. It’s pretty cool and creates absolutely confusing (and hilarious) conversations around unexpected listeners (“I slept with my mom!” “Yeah he adopted me last year!” “I have two wives” “That’s my daughter, my son didn’t want to come out with us”). The tradition usually is that first years are adopted by third or fourth year students. As a postgrad I was crushed that I couldn’t find parents! I mean I wasn’t the typical first year, I wasn’t in hall, I didn’t really know any undergrads or even third year postgrads. No parents in view. I even almost attended the Orphan Bop! Then, when hope was gone, I met K at a photo shoot organised by the student ambassadors of the university (which we were both working for).

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With K at May Ball…the zombie look I’m pulling off so brilliantly is because this was during finals.

We clicked and after learning he was a fourth year, I begged him to adopt me. Yep I was pretty forward…but he said yes! Not sure if he was only being polite, but hey it worked out well since we ended up becoming very good friends! He even found me a mom, I mean how amazing is he!

This leads me to Raisin.

Raisin is perhaps the biggest weekend of the year (that and graduation perhaps). That is usually when the ‘children’ are initiated by their parents. On Sunday there is a ‘tea party’ in the morning with the mum. She then usually sends you on a drunken scavenger hunt. Later at night, it’s time for the dad to bring you out to experience the world (and drink more).

So because K had found me a mom, I was able to attend the tea party. By tea party I mean the one day I probably drank the most before noon in my entire life. It was fun! I met my mom and two sisters and the party had been joined with my aunt and her children as well.

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My family on my mom’s side.

We did all kinds of fun games, that all involved alcohol, and after the breakfast/drinking, the moms sent us out on an embarrassing scavenger hunt. Students make fools of themselves that day, the locals hate us, the police arrest us and the university tries to stay completely detached from us. I can understand both sides to be honest. I had so much fun running around town doing the challenges set by my mom and aunt and taking weird pictures, these are lifelong memories! I can however also understand why people don’t think it appropriate. I mean some people exaggerated. That said, some locals were blatantly rude to me for no reason. I boycotted a bar for the rest of the year for how rude they were to me that day. Anyhow, excuse the rant!

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yes this is ring of fire at 10:30AM

The foam fight is a huge part of Raisin. On the Monday following Raisin weekend and the hangover that will undoubtedly ensue, parents dress up their kids, give them the weirdest things to carry and send them on their way, usually parading them around town, before heading into Sallies quad.

This is where I take a second to explain what the word ‘Raisin’ comes from. Back in the old days, the students had to give a pound of raisins to their parents in order to show their gratitude (now it is signified by a bottle of wine). In return, the parents would give them a receipt. The receipt can be written on anything! And that is where things get from weird to weirder. People have taken this to a hilarious extreme! I saw people carrying boats, pianos, plants, I even saw a dad who had built himself a chair and he was being carried around by his children.

My mother and auntie dressed myself, my sisters and cousins up, smeared our faces with colour and sent us on our way. We arrived at the quad, were given foam bottles and then, all hell broke loose.  A fun kind of hell, you know? Anyhow, at that particular moment, you’re part of the biggest foam fight in the world. In that moment you’re also pretty incognito under the layer of foam that covers almost your entire body. I got slapped in the face with foam, I slapped people in the face with foam. It was chaos. It was the funnest thing ever! The only down part? Trying to wash it all off afterwards 😉

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You’ve guessed right, we were the Loch Ness monster!

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It took a week to get the foam smell out of my hair…

It all seems crazy to tell these tales, but Raisin is fun and being part of an academic family was one of the greatest traditions I have ever experienced! It also gave me one of the best friends I made in St Andrews!

Come back next Sunday for the last part of the traditions! Hope you all had a great weekend!xx

{the last two pictures were taken from my aunt’s photos.}

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