Raisin Weekend is one of the biggest traditions in St Andrews, so called because children traditionally gave their academic parents a pound of raisins as a thank you for welcoming them to the town.
The St Andrews academic family is unique, as it has always been passed organically from student to student. This means we all have a responsibility, as the only custodians of the tradition, to protect it for years to come. Always be respectful of others, and remember drinking in public is against the law in Scotland.
Raisin is about celebrating new lifelong friends, and taking part in a tradition that makes St Andrews different. It's not all about drinking, despite what some academic parents might think.
Typical Raisin schedule
- Some kids may be part of multiple families who might have different plans for Raisin. It's best for these kids to discuss a schedule with their parents in advance, so they can plan accordingly. For example, they might join one family for daytime activities, and meet the other family in the evening.
- Early Morning: beach games
- Parents will often bring their kids to West Sands for sunrise beach games and maybe even a sea dip to kick off the day.
- Wherever academic kids are told to meet, you’ll want to be on time-- parents might give you extra tasks or consequences if you're late (or early).
- Parents often spend a lot of time and money to make Raisin a fun experience for their academic kids, so remember to bring them a gift!
- Late Morning: shower and breakfast
- If you’ve gone in the sea, you’ll probably have a chance to go home or back to your parents’ house to shower, dry off, and warm up.
- If you stop at home, you might grab breakfast from halls or your kitchen, or your parents might prepare breakfast for you at their house.>
- Midday: scavenger hunt
- A scavenger hunt around town is a classic Raisin activity. Every family will have its own creative take on it!
- Depending how big your family is, you might be sent out in teams or in one big group.
- Afternoon: return to parents’ house
- After the scavenger hunt or main activities in town, you might head back to your parent's house for more food, games, and rest.
- This may even be your opportunity to take a nap—some families will send their kids home to rest before meeting up again in the evening.
- If your parents have friends that are doing Raisin, in the afternoon you might meet up with other families and play games with academic cousins!
- Evening: go to a party or have a night in with your family.
- The evening might be the point when your parents let go of the structured elements to the day and join you in celebrating a successful Raisin Sunday!
- Parents may host a party, bring their kids to another family’s party, have a fun night in with board games or a big dinner, or they may end the Raisin festivities there so you can get a good night’s sleep before the foam fight.
- Around 9am or earlier, kids will usually meet at their parents’ house (traditionally their mum’s), where parents will dress them up in costumes.
- Next, kids might head to their other parents’ house (traditionally their dad’s), where they will be given a Raisin receipt. Depending on the family structure, these two parts of the morning will often be combined at one house.
- With costumes on and receipt in hand, kids will make their way to Lower College Lawn (behind St Salvator’s Quad) in time for the foam fight to start at 11:00!
- The foam fight marks the end of Raisin weekend celebrations—parents might stick around to watch the foam fight, take photos, and walk their kids home.
Academic Parents: Planning Your Raisin
- Your academic kids might have disabilities—physical, mental, invisible—and access needs to be able to participate in Raisin. They might struggle with drinking alcohol, energy levels, mobility, staying warm if they go into the sea, and being able to prepare for the day of unknown activities
- It can sometimes be a burden for your kids to have to explain all of this. Here are some things you could include in your Raisin plans to make it generally more accessible (without them having to ask):
- Breaks to take medication, eat, or meet sensory needs
- Shorter-distance scavenger hunt tasks
- A quiet space where they can take a breather throughout the day
- Let them know the general plans or structure for the day so they can prepare mentally and/or physically
- Non-alcoholic alternatives to be able to join in on drinking games
- The best way to find out what your academic children need to be able to fully participate in and enjoy your family’s Raisin
is simply to ask! You could send out a Raisin Google Form or Microsoft Form
(you can use our template to get started) to everyone in advance to understand what sorts of access and other needs you should incorporate into your plans.
Alcohol Safety & Inclusivity
- Make it clear to your kids that they can say no to anything you ask them to do, and respect their boundaries! Remember that consent is Freely given, Reversible, Informed, Enthusiastic and Specific (FRIES) and that this applies to all activities.
- Ask your kids before Raisin about their comfort level with alcohol so you can plan your Raisin accordingly and can check in with them on the day – you can use our Raisin Google Form or Microsoft Form template as a start.
- Respect any boundaries your kids set—don't push, pressure or guilt them into doing anything they aren’t comfortable with. And remember that if they feel comfortable enough to be honest with you about their boundaries, you’re doing something right!
Non Alcoholic Options
- Build non-alcoholic alternatives into all of your games and activities, especially for ‘punishments’ or consequences, such as:
- A shot of lemon or lime juice
- Let a sibling draw them a “tattoo” (with a skin-safe marker!)
- Take a sip of a non-alcoholic drink
- Wear a silly clothing item (like a goofy hat or pair of sunglasses you pick up from a charity shop)
- Perform a song or dance
- Post a funny photo
- Offer these non-alcoholic alternatives every time you start a new game or activity, so that your kids know it’s an option and feel comfortable taking you up on it.
- Some games can be played either with or without alcohol, such as:
- Never Have I Ever
- 2 Truths and a Lie
- Charades or Pictionary
- 20 Questions
- Most Likely To / Superlatives
- Guess Who: Kids Edition (have your kids send in embarrassing stories or fun facts in advance, and then read them out and have them guess whose it is)
- Guess Who: Parent Edition (read out facts or funny stories about you and your co-parents or academic aunts and uncles, and have your kids guess who it’s about)
- Heads Up (choose a category like celebrities, movies, St Andrews icons, etc. And have your kids each write one down on a sticky note. Shuffle them up and stick one on everyone’s heads. Then they can go around and ask the group one question at a time about who they are, until everyone is able to figure it out!)
Pacing and Safe Drinking
- Offer water to your kids often throughout the day—if they have had a lot to drink, they might not think to ask for it, even if they want or need some. If they have their own water bottles, you could help fill them up when empty, especially before sending them out into town for activities.
- Feed your kids! Make sure they get proper meals throughout the day—particularly before they start drinking—to soak up some of the alcohol and give them energy to make it through your day of activities. Have snacks on hand in between meals in case a kid needs some food. You can also take them or send them to the stall outside the Union to get some bread or water.
- Try keeping track of how many units/shots/drinks each of your kids has had, so that you know when to check in on them or make sure they take a break from alcohol. This is especially important if you are sending your kids off to other houses or locations where the people looking after them might not know how much they drank before they got there.
- Alternate between drinking and non-drinking activities so your kids can pace themselves. Consider some low-key activities to give your kids a break from the drinking and running around town – board games, pictionary, charades, karaoke, 20 questions, 2 truths and a lie, or even a nap!
- If you're worried about someone during Raisin, you can take them to the first aid station in Club 601 in the Union building, or call Security & Response at 01334 468999.
- Watch out for the signs of alcohol poisoning:
- Severely slurred speech
- Irregular or slow breathing
- Pale or blue-tinged skin due to low body temperature
- Conscious but unresponsive
- If you suspect someone may have alcohol poisoning, do not leave them alone! Call 999, encourage them to drink water, and try to keep them sitting up and awake until help arrives.
- If someone passes out while you’re waiting for help, you can put them in the recovery position to keep their airway clear and prevent choking. See the image below or the NHS webpage to understand how to place someone in this position.
Respect for the Local Community
- Send a sober parent/aunt/uncle to accompany the kids on scavenger hunts or other activities around town to make sure they don’t accidentally trespass or leave a mess anywhere.
- Remind your kids not to litter – you could send them with a bag to carry things in.
- If you have activities or scavenger hunt tasks that involve your kids approaching strangers, remind them to be respectful and not harass local residents or touch them without permission, especially considering Covid risks.
- Avoid assigning your kids tasks that involve disrupting local businesses—you could make a judgment call on the day on whether they are sober enough to be respectful if you send them into shops.
- Try making your kids’ Raisin Receipt out of recyclable materials, like cardboard, or forego the receipt and send them with donations for St Candrews instead!
- Encourage your kids to bring their own reusable water bottles or drinking cups to use throughout the day
- Make your kids’ foam fight costumes out of spare items, rags and even cardboard—you could pick up some clothes from Transition or local charity shops to use
- If the clothing is still clean and usable after Raisin and you don’t have use for them anymore, consider donating them to the charity shops in town!
- Anything you are planning to buy to use for Raisin, try and plan for what you will do with it afterwards, so it doesn’t go to waste
- Set a limit on the number of foam cans each of your kids buys, or better yet, make your own foam at home by whisking up some washing-up liquid and water!
A typical Raisin Sunday schedule is at the top of this page.
Help & Support
- If you need to take a break from your Raisin activities to rest or sober up, you can come to the Union and get some bread and water from our stall outside, or go into Club 601 to rest on a mattress.
- From 10:30 am to 4pm on Raisin Sunday, there will be First Aiders stationed inside the Union building in Club 601 to assist with medical or health issues, such as injuries, drinking too much, mental health crises, or wellbeing concerns.
- If you need non-emergency support outside of these hours, you can contact the Security and Response Team at 01334 468999 (number is on the back of your matric card). In an emergency, please call 999.
- Rector’s Café in the Union building will be open as usual (10am - 6pm) for students not participating or finished with their Raisin activities to study, eat or drink.
- Club 601 is open as a first aid station
- Main Bar will be open as a study space only from 12 noon - 5pm. The bar itself will not be open but you can grab a coffee and food from Rector's Café if you need a refreshment. Please note if you are under the influence of alcohol you will note be allowed in to use this space.
- The Main Library will be closed on Saturday and Sunday (15th -16th) due to an electrical shutdown. You can find up-to-date opening hours of other study spaces on the Library website
On Raisin Monday, academic children typically meet at their parents’ home in the morning, where they will be dressed up in costumes and given a ‘Raisin receipt’ to carry with them on their way to Lower College Lawn. There, hundreds of academic children will flood onto the grass where they will be showered with foam from foam cannons and can mess around covering their academic siblings and friends in foam, while their parents watch and take pictures from the sidelines.
Raisin Receipts & Costumes
- Traditionally, academic fathers would give their kids the Latin phrase below, written on parchment, to take to the foam fight. This is known as a Raisin receipt. Over time, unusual objects have taken the place of parchment, but the phrase has stayed the same:
Ego civis [name of parent], tertianus/a [third year] or magistrandus/a [fourth year] huius celeberrimae universitatis Sancti Andreae, qui [father's degree] studeo, a te [child's name], meo/a bejanto/ina carissimo/a qui [child's degree] studeat, unam libram uvarum siccarum accepisse affirmo pro qua multas gratias tibi ago.
- Your Raisin receipt should be safe: oversized, electrical, stolen, or otherwise illegal receipts will be confiscated, and both parents and kids may face disciplinary action.
- Note that all receipts will be disposed of on the way into the foam fight. If you would like to keep a receipt, ask a parent to look after it before you enter.
- Keep your costumes free from appropriation and respect all cultures.
- Think about creating receipts that can be made from recyclable or reusable materials, like cardboard, scrap paper, spare rags or clothes, or secondhand items from charity shops.
- You could have your kids bring donations for Candrews and the Storehouse instead! Volunteers for Candrews and the Storehouse will be collecting donation receipts from students as you line up to enter the Foam Fight. Items needed include:
- Tinned meat (curries, corned beef, ham)Tinned fishtinned pasta (ravioli, spaghetti hoops, mac and cheese)
- Tinned fruit
- Rice pudding
- Tinned potatoes
- Tinned vegetables
- Baked beans
- UHT milk
- Instant Coffee
- Microwavable rice
- Household cleaning items (laundry soap, washing up liquid, disinfectant sprays, etc)
- The Foam Fight will begin at 11am and end by 12 noon, and students will start arriving from 10 am. It takes place in Lower College Lawn, behind St Salvator’s Quad, and both academic parents and children will be directed through the right entrances when you arrive to either spectate or partake in the foam fight
- As you enter, there will be a collection point to drop off your donations for St Candrews, and a spot for you to recycle or dispose of your Raisin receipt before entering the foam fight
- Please try to take all of your belongings, including pieces of your costume or Raisin receipt, with you when you leave the foam fight
- Be mindful of trekking foam or mud into your halls of residence after the foam fight. There will be people with hosepipes on your way out, which you can use to rinse off some of the foam. Only residents will be allowed into their hall of residence after the foam fight, so please return to the hall you live in to shower. If you live outside of St Andrews, you can use the showers in the Commuter Common Room at 79 North Street (commuter students only).
Volunteer for Raisin Weekend
Not part of an academic family but would like to be involved? Why don't you volunteer with us. During Raisin Weekend (16th -17th October), we want to keep people safe and leave the spaces used for our traditions as we found them. If you’d like to help out, you can sign up to volunteer for Raisin
. We are looking for volunteers to help run our bread and water stall alongside the sabbs outside the Union on Sunday, and to help clean up Lower College Lawn after the foam fight on Monday.