If you happen to be awake and in St Andrews at 5am on Saturday morning, you might want to head down to Castle Sands to watch hundreds of students participate in one of St Andrews University’s more unusual traditions.
At dawn on the first of May (traditionally the Celtic festival of Beltane) the hardier students run into the North Sea, purportedly to cleanse themselves of the sin of stepping on the spot on which Patrick Hamilton was martyred. According to legend, any unsuspecting student who walks over the ‘PH’ indicated on the cobblestones outside of St Salvator’s college will fail their degree, unless they bathe in the North Sea at first light on May Day.
This tradition has developed over the years; students often stay up partying all night before having a barbecue on the beach to fuel them for the chilly ordeal, and more recently some faculty members have raised money for charity by joining their students on the dip.
Interested to learn more about the traditions of St Andrews University? Visit the Museum of the University of St Andrews, on The Scores. Admission is free, and you can learn all about the other legends in the University’s long and tumultuous history.
For information on this year’s dip, visit the St Andrews Students Union site.
Written and contributed by Beth Craggs