• Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

Our haunted city: a guide for the superstitious student

autumnal grey friars kirkyard, an eery Edinburgh graveyard

When studying at a University as old as our beloved Edinburgh, you are bound to run into superstitions. I have always considered myself a somewhat superstitious person (I avoid cracks on roads, never say the word ‘quiet’ when I’m mid-shift or god-forbid utter ‘macbeth’ in a theatre). That being said, even my (admittedly somewhat erratic) habits are rivalled by students at the University of Edinburgh.

For all fresher students joining our cohort this Autumn, I’m giving you a brief rundown of three of Edinburgh’s most popular myths (or complete truths with awful consequences if you don’t follow through, depending on how you look at it.)

You must climb Arthur’s Seat in Freshers Week.

Arthur’s Seat is known for many things by Edinburgh residents: the hill boasts many lovely hikes, idyllic views of the city and features in many old poems and classic novels. That being said, University students know it for a very different reason. If you don’t hike Arthur’s Seat in freshers week- you will have bad sex for seven years. Look! If you don’t see sex in your future then gladly skip out on the hike, however if you plan to indulge (or even think there is a chance that in the next seven years you may partake) then don’t risk it!!! Every year, Arthur’s Seat is dutifully trodden on by legions of students who will claim to not believe in myths yet they want to complete the hike ‘just in case’ I urge you to join them.

Edinburgh Castle trip? Absolutely not.

Look. I know. This one is disappointing. But if you plan on graduating with a degree from this university (an unexpectedly difficult vision regardless of grades this year) then you are not allowed to step inside the castle walls. Legend has it that if you dare go inside, you will fail all your exams and not leave university a graduate. I have personal beef with this one. I grew up adoring fairytales and stories of magic and conquest and warrior princesses. Why on Gods green earth did I (a Glaswegian) not make the trip before I matriculated? I’ll never know. But given the fact our university seems hellbent on making graduation with a classified degree as difficult as possible for the foreseeable future, under no circumstances will you find me there. I’ll wait until my name has been called, I’ve walked across the stage at McEwan Hall and taken a few awkwardly posed photos with beloved family members, thank you very much.

Rubbing a dog’s nose?

Once upon a time there was a dog called Greyfriars Bobby. I think. I’m actually unsure if this dog had such a ridiculous name. Anyway, his owner died and the ever loyal dog lovingly guarded the grave for a whole fourteen years before eventually passing on. I’ll admit, the story makes me well up a little. But what is ever-so-slightly annoying is that now, in memory of Edinburgh’s most beloved pooch, there is a statue of him right by Greyfriars Kirk, where it has become custom that tourists and locals alike rub his nose for luck when passing by. Generally a lovely thought, however a warning if you plan to get yourself some extra luck: the statue has gained so much attention there is a perpetual build up of people waiting their turn, causing angry mutterings of people JUST TRYING TO GET TO WORK (apologies, this one is personal too).

So, dear reader, there you have it. Three possible ways to gain you as much good luck as you possibly can accumulate upon your first few months at the University of Edinburgh. I wish you the very best of luck, but do beg that you don’t rub the nose of that godforsaken dog between the hours of 9am and 5pm as you will be getting in the way of a perpetually late running, slightly irate retail worker.

Featured image provided by Tommy Manning