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Selmec Student Traditions

The predecessor of our university, the Selmecbánya Academy was the cradle of a whole range of student traditions. During the centuries these customs became traditions and `moved' to Sopron and then to Miskolc with the Academy. 

Freshmen arriving at the university (their traditional name is Pagans) are called Balek (`dupe') after they have undergone some tuition and examining. After passing the filter comprehensive tests, the student turns into a Firma (`a character') so as to become a Firma Gleaming in Divine Light later, and, after receiving a degree, a Veteran. The most glamorous occasions for carrying on these traditions are the department parties where students sing their traditional Bursch songs. The Baleks are christened, the Firmas are initiated into their roles and graduating students get their traditional ribbons, mugs and rings at these parties.


Graduation ceremony

The expression comes from the Latin word ‘Valete’, which means ‘farewell’.
It was used by students, studying in higher education institutions of mining, metallurgy and forestry, to say farewell to their institutions and friends. From this it follows that, like almost all traditions, its origins can be found in Selmecbánya. The students in the year of ‘valete’ are represented by the ‘valete committee’, the head of which is the ‘valete president’, who is elected by students by secret ballot. The members of the committee are selected by the president because he knows who he can trust and who he wishes to work together with. Members of the ‘valete’ year organise, among others, the ‘ring inauguration’, the ‘mug inauguration’ and the ‘band inauguration’ ceremonies, as well as the ‘valete ball’ event and the ‘farewell walks’. Farewell walks have been the ceremony of students graduating from colleges since 1830.

Traditional student party

These are undoubtedly the most ceremonial and most prestigious events, which have managed to keep their traditional Selmec character very closely. The first traditional ceremonies were events where students mainly discussed professional issues, at the end of which some fun and revelry took place. Later, when students of forestry also started to take part, the professional character became less and less prominent: joy and unlimited but still highbrow entertainment became typical. Officials of the traditional student ceremonies are as follows:

  • Praeses (president/chairman): He is in charge of governing the ceremony. He appoints the officials. The words of the chairman are sacrosanct. Everyone has to obey him unconditionally. He can keep in touch with freshmen (called ‘dupes’) via the Fuchsmajor because condescending to freshmen is beneath his dignity. His band is white, which allegedly represents justice.
  • Fuchsmajor (freshmen guard): His task is to provide help to ‘dark dupes’. If one of them wishes to raise a point during a ceremony he or she has to approach the ‘freshmen guard’, who, as an interpreter, will mediate to the chairman. He sits at the freshmen’s table. His band is black, which represents the (mental) darkness of the freshmen.
  • Contrapunct (echo): Originally, his task was to repeat the chairman’s words accurately but more loudly. It was necessary because the chairman’s voice was not always heard in the rambling premises, so he had to convey his speech word by word. Now his role is to cheer up the ceremony by way of his funny comments. The chairman usually appoints two students to this position who stay at the opposite end of the hall. Their bands are yellow, representing being jealous of the chairman.
  • Cantus Praeses (song intoner): His task is to intone the relevant songs during a traditional ceremony. Two people hold this position and stay near the chairman’s table. Their bands are red, representing fieriness.
  • Major Domus: His task is to make the arrangements for of the ceremony: booking a hall, furnishing it, purchasing beer, bread and lard, and onions, as well as providing props. He receives the guests and shows them to their seats. He prepares the bye-law and appoints the officials without bands. He sits near the chairman’s table. His band is blue, which represents integrity.
  • Gullet Guards (Leibfuchs): They are the bartenders of the ceremony. The Major domus appoints gullet guards for each banded official and the Consequence. He appoints gullet guards also for special guests. Their task is to ensure that they always have beer in their mugs. The whole ceremony has gullet guards who ensure that there is always beer on the tables.
  • Consequence: This position was established in Sopron. His task is to draw the consequence in case the chairman makes a mistake by drinking a whole mug of beer to the lees, which is preceded by a loud “Vivat Praeses” cry.

The traditional ceremony takes place according to a scenario prepared by the Praeses in advance. Behaviour at a ceremony is governed by the rules that are read out for the participants by the Major Domus, as they are listed in the bye-law, so that nobody should leave the ceremony shamefacedly before its end.

Anthem of Faculty of Economics