Last Saturday night, my newsfeed was quiet. No drunken selfies were being posted, nor was there a live stream of users’ current dinner parties or pub-crawls. There were no societies encouraging me to attend their social. No events were being shared, or parties hosted. At first glance, 17 October hardly seemed like a Saturday night.
The shelves of Tesco, however, had been relieved of the cheapest alcohol available. Throughout town, there was a shortage of plastic cups. Strange packages arrived on the doorsteps of scheming third years. Costumes were being sewn, scavenger hunts prepped. St Andrews was stocking up for Raisin Weekend. Although named for the gift (raisins) that children allegedly gave their academic parents back in the time of its inception, Raisin has evolved into a celebration of day-drinking that would rival Oktoberfest.
Third year Haley Tanner says, “I remember my Raisin like it was yesterday. The taste of shots of advocaat and the anxiety to figure out the clues of our scavenger hunt are burned into my memory.” Many would say she’s fortunate to have any memory of that Sunday.
In the early hours of Sunday morning, untested freshers arrived at the location of their mothers’ choosing. Wearing anything from black tie to swimming costumes, first years then found themselves chinning cans of beer, doing dirty shots, and playing every drinking game imaginable from sunup to sundown. The strongest amongst them then proceeded to a house party hosted by their fathers’ side of the family, and continued drinking well into the night.
Why exactly do we do it? Why subject ourselves to such a brutal day of day-drinking? Some children chalk it up to the adventure: Henri Nawrocki predicted that his Raisin would be “insanely alcoholic as well as insanely amazing,” a winning combination. Callum Douglas, a JSA from Ireland, chose to be adopted so that he could better appreciate St Andrews during his brief stay here. His personal expectations of Raisin: “To have “a class day with [his] legends of parents, get trollied, do funny sh*t, and annihilate Argentina.”
My own Raisin wouldn’t have disappointed them. I was at my mother’s house by 6:14 am (not a minute later or earlier), in the North Sea by half six, and playing drunk twister on the beach by seven. Lest second and fourth years feel left out as newly anointed parents and children overrun the holiday, ‘Raisin Revenge’ has recently entered the St Andrews lexicon, an opportunity for second years to pay their parents back in kind for the previous year’s shenanigans.
If freshers and fourth years are meant to be fearful while second years are meant to be vindictive, third years might be the only ones for whom Raisin is nothing but entertainment. Haley Tanner enthuses about finally being an academic parent this year: “My kids were playing various games, competing in teams, and of course taking an obligatory dip into the north sea.” Other third years shared her joy. Stephanie Irwin said: “We did a wild scavenger hunt, brunch and made a bonfire.” She had prepped the traditional scavenger hunt and drinking games, with the goal of getting her kids just tipsy enough for bonding activities before the house parties begin.
Far from remaining in bed to sleep off their hangovers, freshers were awake by 10 on Monday morning to receive their receipts and costumes from their fathers and mothers, respectively. Once classy Latin inscriptions, Raisin receipts now have the potential to be livestock, food, or even a people. Parents have been known to make themselves the receipt, making their children carry them to Lower College Lawn. Costumes, too, are far from elegant. Previous years’ themes have included sumo wrestlers, tampons, and dalmatians. Whatever outfit you found yourself forced into by your creative mothers, worry not: every costume looks the same once it has been doused in several cans of shaving foam.
Between adoption and revenge, Raisin Sunday offered something for everyone, whatever your level of tolerance may be. The more ambitious second years may have arranged to kidnap their parents in the early hours of the morning, while some opted for drinking only after church let out. Other students, still, may have chosen to forgo adoption and assist from the sidelines as aunts or uncles. Raisin provided the perfect opportunity for the entire student body to come together with the goal of ensuring that the entire town is as drunk as possible: a noble goal, I think we can all agree.