St Andrews Traditions Explained: How to Find Your Family

When I came to Freshers, I wasn’t quite sure what academic parents were, but I knew I didn’t want to be an orphan. The good news – parents want kids as much as you want to be adopted. An academic parent is usually a 3rd year that ‘adopts’ a group of first years during Freshers. Many people have a mom and a dad but some will end up will a few moms and dads – I have 2 wonderful dads! One of many reasons to get involved in hall and evening activities during Freshers is it gives you the perfect opportunity to meet a parent. I was adopted in the Vic and I know others who were adopted while moving into halls and at various first week hall events. After you are adopted once, it’s not uncommon to have your new mom or dad introduce you to your other parent. Just get chatting: either you or your future parent can pop the question.

These parents can be an integral part of your first year and the tradition allows you to meet other 3rd and 4th years that you might not have run into otherwise. Parents usually organize dinner parties in the beginning of the year so you can meet the rest of your academic family.

They can also be a huge help to you in year practicalities. I’ve heard of parents taking their kids around to the charity shops to find cheap course books or teaching them the best way to study for and navigate the library during finals. My dad was an incredible help to me as I panicked over how to find housing for this year.

It will be in your best interests to love and be extremely kind to your parents not only for the help they’ll give you but also because of one chilly weekend in November – Raisin Weekend.  This year Raisin Weekend will be the 28th October due to new Semester dates.

On Raisin Sunday, your mom will throw you a tea party – my tea tasted suspiciously of cider, whiskey, and various other alcohols. There is also a delectable feast of carbohydrates and I promise you, on Raisin Sunday carbs are your best friend. Your dad will be with you throughout the evening for more shenanigans. Don’t forget to give them a gift of wine (over the years a pound of raisins found its equivalent in a bottle of wine).

The next day, conveniently referred to as Raisin Monday, head back to your mom’s house where she will outfit you in a fantastically ridiculous costume. Having 2 dads, one of them took on the role of creating a Mean Girls meets Phantom of the Opera meets Lord Voldemort concoction for me. After you are all dolled-up, head over to your father’s to collect the Raisin Receipt. In the past, the Raisin Receipt was a piece of parchment detailing that you have given your father the appropriate pound of raisins. You can hope for a piece of parchment if you want, but it wouldn’t be nearly as fun as carrying a massive and awkward object (inscribed in Latin by traditional fathers) to Sallies for the finale foam fight. When 12pm strikes Raisin is over for another year and if you’re like me, you’ll spend the rest of the day washing foam and hair gel out of your hair and pleading with Boots to develop your foam soaked disposable camera.

Raisin and academic families are just two of the many things that make St. Andrews unique but they will probably be at the core of some of your fondest St. Andrews’ memories.

The Informer's Top 5 Raisin Survival Tips:

Don't just rely on nights out in the Union to find your parents: societies' afternoon activities during Fresher's are also a great way to meet like minded family members who you might actually remember in the morning.

Even parents can get carried away sometimes. Learn from the girl who got frostbite from her ice-cream Raisin Receipt and the boy whose mother texted him pre-Raisin "a) What is your blood type? b) Can you swim?"

Is incest really best? We'll leave that to you to decide, but be prepared to pay the price with the May Dip to cleanse your sins. 

Aim for punctuality at your mother's tea party. Strict parents are wont to enforce alcohol-related punishment for even slight tardiness.

Continue the family love with a well-exacted Raisin revenge on your parents in your second year, or by adopting your own cherubs if you're a Medic.
This year Raisin runs from Sunday 28th October- Monday 29th.
Images sourced from weheartit, stealingideasdianereiter, David Moir/Reuters and Nazira Kassenova Compiled by Annie Faichney