IT IS an historic tradition designed to celebrate the relationship between first year students and their ‘academic parents’, the older students who assume the role of mentoring and guiding their ‘children’ throughout their time at university.
Historically, first year students would thank their academic parents for their guidance with a pound of raisins, although sinec the 19th century, the giving of raisins was substituted for a derivative - usually alcohol, setting the benchmark for the tradition today.
Usually held annually during the last week in November (or earlier, dependent on academic calendar), first years - known as Bejants and Bejantines - are entertained by their academic parents, starting with a tea-party hosted by the academic mother and a pub crawl or house party led by the academic father. Due to the lack of stringent rules on the number of academic parents a first year may have, it is not unusual for Bejants and Bejantines to attend more than one party or pub crawl, with many families joining together towards the end of the weekend.
Traditionally, the parents give their children a ‘Raisin receipt’ in return for the pound of raisins/alcohol. Throughout the years, the receipts have become more and more ludicrous, with livestock receipts banned in the 1960s after a particularly unsavoury moment involving a donkey and laxatives.
The weekend culminates in a mass foam fight, held in St Salvator’s quadrangle on the Monday morning, where first years in fancy dress spray each other with foam - this is, however, a more recent phenomenon.
Whilst still a normal academic day, some lecturers also get involved in the frivolity with outlandish lecture topics and other forms of tongue-in-cheek academia.