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Most of us already know what studentship means. What do we think of when we hear the word “student”? A young person, who devotes all his free time and efforts to get the necessary knowledge and skills to obtain a degree and become a qualified specialist in his field. However, being a student also means being a part of a large society. Every society has certain rules and traditions.

Today, along with the fast progress that our world experiences,  student traditions have changed a lot and, although some of them still can seem funny or inappropriate, they no longer can be compared to some weird traditions that students had in the 18th century. What were these traditions? In this article, we will tell you about the strangest ones!

The Weirdest Traditions Students Had In The 18th Century

We should not talk too much about how important the education was in the Middle Ages simply because we all are aware of it – it has always been highly important. In the past, people had to go through many hard trials to enroll to the university and make their dreams to come true, not mentioning that education wasn’t available for everyone. Only the smartest and most talented ones could obtain a degree. Besides, it also was expensive. Thus, only wealthy parents had a chance to afford paying huge sums of money to provide their children with a high-quality education. It was also more difficult to study because a person had to maintain excellent academic performance in order not to get expelled and students of that time did not have many opportunities to simplify the education process like we do. Now we have libraries, internet sources, and even professional help! We can easily find any facts within a few minutes. While a modern student can find out what is the best writing service and receive quick help, in the past, young people did not have such a possibility.

Students’ traditions were also different. Sometimes the traditions at the universities could be quite tricky. For example, once upon a time, an Oxford University student asked his professor to give him a pint of beer during the exam and, in accordance to the old rules, he had a right to do that. A professor gave him a beer. However, in response, professor recalled another good tradition and fined an impudent student for coming to the exam without his personal sword.

Old students’ traditions were odd and sometimes even creepy. The weirdest traditions were related to the mandatory initiation rites. Studying in the past was hard not just because of the numerous difficulties associated with a complex study program, lack of resources or even the psychical punishment for the bad behavior. First Middle age universities in Europe faced another unexpected trouble. Young students were almost uncontrolled. But some wise professors found the way how to control the dynamic and young students – before the studying process started, young people were exposed to many trials that were made in order to break their pride, gluttony and other sins. One of the medieval traditions has even surpassed the hazing. Young students were obliged to serve the undergraduates. They were receiving humiliating tasks, and were forced to pay for them in the local restaurants and public baths.

But the weirdest tradition was a deposition. Young students (back there only men could obtain the education) had to present themselves to a depositor and if he thought that they were ready for the initiation, he would announce the date and time. The mentor of the ritual left different items among the students so they could "embellish" themselves, there were different hats, glasses, scissors, combs, and jester's costumes. Depositor asked the students to open their mouths wide. Then they put there two canine fangs. Students were obliged to hold them in mouth with clenched jaws until they will be allowed to spit the fangs out. On their heads they had fake horns and donkey ears. After a mentor's command students were heading to a special room. On their way, depositor was choking them like if they were a herd of cattle and in the room students were making a circle around a professor, who was slinging a mud at them, laughing at their animal look. Later they had to listen a lecture about “the vices and stupidity of youth” and necessity of “enhancement and discipline that education brings into their lives”.

Depositor was asking hard questions and puzzles. If student wasn't able to answer or was too slow to find the right answer he was hit in his head by a little bag with sand and students weren't able to spell the words clearly even if they knew the right answer because of fangs in their mouths. For this they were entitled to a new portion of insults from the professor. Then the mentor of ceremony asked students if they are ready to decline their sinful thoughts. Then the depositor was pulling out the fangs by the forceps, removed their horns and donkey’s ears, cleaned student’s ears with a large toothpick, and shaved their hair. In the end of the procedure they poured water on student’s head, symbolizing pureness and liquidation the bad habits. Finally, students received the certificate. Now, sinless they could enter the university and without this certificate they were not allowed to study.


The document which means that Ernst Ludwig Junck passed the initiation rite in the Marburg University on 16 September 1791



BIO: Helen Birk is a freelance writer for Helen is an experienced specialist and inspiring personality. She is interested in history and loves discovering exciting facts and stories. Winter holidays are Helen’s favorite time of the year. She is very creative at baking muffins and bringing back ancient customs.