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This article is about the student term. For the German poet, see Franz von Gaudy.
"Gaudies" redirects here. For the French village, see Gaudiès.
For other uses, see Gaudi (disambiguation).

Gaudy or gaudie[1] (from the Latin, "gaudium", meaning "enjoyment" or "merry-making") is a term used to reflect student life in a number of the ancient universities in the United Kingdom as well as other institutions such as Durham University and Reading University. It is generally believed to relate to the traditional student song, De Brevitate Vitae (On the Shortness of Life), which is commonly known as the Gaudeamus by virtue of its first line.

University of Oxford[edit]

At the University of Oxford a gaudy ('gaude' at New College, Oxford, pronounced the same) is a college feast. It is often a reunion for its alumni. The origin of the term may be connected to the traditional student anthem, Gaudeamus.

Gaudies generally involve a celebratory formal dinner, generally in black tie and academic gowns (scarlet festal robes for doctors), and may include events such as chapel services, lectures or concerts beforehand. For reunions, the invitees are generally graduate alumni from a number of (usually two or three) consecutive matriculation years, e.g. 1999-2001. Typically, gaudies are held for each year-group on around a ten-year cycle.

Durham University[edit]

At St Chad's College the College feastday begins with a proclamation of the feast and includes an early rise, college invasions, green breakfast, as well as a host of competitions that see students spread out into the City vying to win various awards. More serious highlights include a service in the Cathedral and musical performances in the Quad. Alumni have a parallel set of events on or around the same day in Durham and (usually) in London. Previous events that were termed 'gaudies' are now more often called 'feasts' (by the college) or 'mega-formals' (by the JCR): these are all black-tie and gowned affairs that occur several times a term to mark major feasts and special events.

Universities of Dundee and St Andrews[edit]

At the University of Dundee, gaudie nights are traditional student celebrations involving the issue of junior students with senior 'academic parents' in order to introduce them to higher education and to provide socialisation. These events are usually held a short time after the institution's Freshers' Week. The Night itself involves the academic parents (typically one male, one female) taking their younger charges out for an evening's entertainment at the parent's expense.

These evenings are followed by a Raisin Night which is used by the junior students to thank the academic parents (usually in a ritualised fashion) for gaudie night. This typical happens at some point in the early winter of the first semester.

In more recent years, the Dundee Medical School Society (DUMS for short) has introduced an additional 'academic family' event into the social calendar known as Farkin Wednesday.[2] This well-anticipated event traditionally takes place on the second Wednesday in February, providing 'academic parents' the opportunity to check up on their 'juniors', ensuring they have settled in well. The origins of the name are unclear. Some believe the event was introduced in memoriam of Lord Archibald Kwigsworth MacKenzie Farkin, previous Lord Mayor of the City of Dundee, who was known to be fond of both fraternity and inebriation. Some believe that the event was named after Farkin Way, a historical Celtic path that ran through the area where Ninewells Hospital is currently located. However some scholars dispute the existence of such a path, declaring, "there's no Farkin Way".

Similar traditions remain at Dundee's erstwhile parent institution, the University of St Andrews, but are however incorporated into a Raisin Weekend and the term gaudie night is not used for the first night. Many traditions surround this event including Raison receipts in Latin, a foam fight and Raison strings given by the academic mother to be hung on the Bejant/Bejantine's academic gown.

St Andrews has a separate ceremony known as the gaudie which involves a gowned torchlight procession and singing of the Gaudeamus in memory of a student, John Honey who risked his life in 1800 to save survivors of a shipping accident offshore.[3]

2013 was the first year that the University of St Andrews medical students partipated in Dundee's Farkin Wednesday, since recent historical evidence has noted Lord Farkin's fondness of St Andrew's "fine drinking establishments and totty"[citation needed]. As per tradition, the event was held on a Friday as the year was made up of three prime factors one of which is the number 3.[4]

University of Aberdeen[edit]

At the University of Aberdeen, the Gaudie is the name of the student newspaper produced under the auspices of the Aberdeen University Students' Association. It is recognised as the oldest student newspaper in Scotland.[5]

University of Reading[edit]

Wantage Hall, one of the university's halls of residence, holds an annual Freshers Gaudie, which is a legacy from when the University of Reading was an extension college of Christ Church, Oxford University.


Cultural references[edit]

The Lord Peter Wimsey mystery Gaudy Night, by Dorothy Sayers, is set at such a reunion at a fictional women's college at Oxford.