> Selmec student traditions
Selmec student traditions
The Academy in Selmecbánya, the predecessor of Miskolc University, was the cradle of a whole range of student traditions. In general, schools have cherished a wide variety of student traditions since the Middle Ages, but the complex system of traditions currently known as ‘Selmec traditions’ are unique in Hungary. As a part of these traditions, several faculties have their own uniforms, which makes it easy to identify their students.
‘Pagans’, young people entering the university, are still regarded as miserable creatures. After completing the ’balek’ (dupe) tuition, they have to pass an exam. If they are successful, they will be christened ‘baleks’ at ceremonial student functions. If the ‘Glorious Galaxy of the Firmas (characters) Gleaming in Divine Light’ decides to make a miserable ‘balek’ an honorary ‘balek’, they will fail him. This ‘Pagan’ has to hold out and become worthy of being christened. His god-parents give him a ‘vulgo’ and an ‘alias’ name, which he bears all his life. Students only bear their ‘vulgo’ names in their second year, senior students use their ‘alias’ names.
In their second year students become ‘kohlenbrenners’, and after passing a comprehensive examination, they get the title ‘Firma Gleaming in Divine Light’. After graduation they become Veterans.
Ceremonial student functions, formal cheerful gatherings, are the highlight and framework of our traditions. The first functions organized by the students of the Selmecbánya Academy were programmes where first of all academic issues were discussed. Later, this professional feature gradually disappeared and was replaced by high spirits and merriness.
The officials of ceremonial student functions wear sashes. The ‘praeses’ is the chairman of the function, and the ‘major domus’ is the sergeant-at-arms, who formulates and reads out the bylaws that everybody is obliged to observe. It is the task of the ‘cantus praeses’ to strike up the right songs during the ceremonial student function. The ‘contrapuncts’ are the echo of the chairman. Their task is to reinforce the words of the chairman. With his witty remarks, a good contra can liven up the gathering.
Besides the officials who wear sashes at the ceremonial student function, several other officials are designated: the ‘conclusion’, whose task is to draw the conclusion by drinking to the last drop after the errors made by the chairman, the ‘leibfuchs’, who sees that the glasses of the main officials should always be full, the ‘fuhrwerks’, those who serve the official drink of the ceremonial student function, and the ‘etalon’ drunkard, who must not make any mistakes while talking, otherwise the function has to be adjourned.
All ceremonial student functions have their own purposes, and therefore their own official names. Only christened students are allowed to take part. The invitations are personal, they are not transferable. The officials are elected by the participants of the function.
A ceremonial student function begins with the election of the Praeses, and then all the other officials are elected by the guests. After singing the anthems, the Major Domus reads out the bye-laws. The participants sing the Bursch songs; there are solemn and funny speeches and parodies of both students and academics and there is no room for taking offence. It is the praeses who authorizes the speeches and determines the tempo of emptying beer jars. The Fuchs Majors are in charge of keeping order. Informal chats and entertainment are only possible after closing the ceremonial student function, when they let things take their course.
Perhaps one of the most beautiful and most spectacular traditions is the tradition of ‘Valéta’. The word comes from the Latin ‘valete’ (farewell), and it means the farewell of graduating students to the city and the campus, and it lasts throughout the whole academic year. A part of this is the armband inauguration ceremony, followed by the ring inauguration ceremony, then the champagne farewell ceremony, the ‘Salamander’ (a torchlight procession in the city), the Valéta ball, and several other events to close the university years.
All faculties have their own symbols and emblems: the flag, the anthem, the faculty greeting, the arms and the uniform, etc. Finding out the typical features of all other faculties may help students to avoid embarrassing misunderstandings.
There are also some other university traditions besides those from Selmec, like the mine car outside student hostel E/5 or the Re-sit Hill. Fun-loving students used to push the mine car to different places, and the graduating student who has had no examination to re-sit in his university years (which happens rarely) is carried to the Re-sit Hill by his fellow students who punish him there. A dip in the fountain after graduation has also become a tradition.
Of course, taking part in the traditions is voluntary, but we believe that students who choose to stay away will lose a lot. Adherence to the alma mater and the loyalty of students will not only accompany the university years (and what is more, make them true student years), but they will also live on after graduation, for life.