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Forget Bridget Jones’s Diary, this term The Oxford Blue will be bringing you Lily Jones’s Diary. In her first piece, Lily will be analysing the Oxford cult of May Day.

Wild Saturday night? Everyone staying up until Sunday sunrise? This may be a typical night out for any other university student, but at Oxford it’s a rare sight indeed. So rare, in fact, it only happens once a year —on May Day. 

That’s right, for 500 years Oxford neeks have been writing off a whole day of work to stay up and hear the choir at Magdalen College sing the Hymnus Eucharisticus. And this year I was one of them. Unlike a mediaeval peasant, I decided to spend the lead up to May Morning at the 02’s Soul Sista x HAUS Party. For someone who does not like DNB and whose most hedonistic drug taking is coffee, this was an interesting choice. Nevertheless, I doubled down on overpriced Jäger Bombs and persisted. Some may say I persisted a little too hard as I ended up briefly passing out at 4 AM. 

If I was feeling a bit sorry for myself before my trip to Magdalen Bridge, I certainly wasn’t after. The bridge was full of people who had partied better and harder than me and were now paying the price. So, as families stood elbow to elbow with blurry eyed students, we waited for the choir to begin. As someone whose hymn appreciation has only ever extended to the belting out of ‘Jerusalem’ during school assembly (and maybe ‘Away in a Manger’ during a carol concert my grandma forced me to) I was not expecting this to be an enjoyable experience. Yet, I was wrong. Maybe it was the Jäger, maybe it was the exhaustion, maybe it was the residual guilt from going to an Anglican school — but the choir was good. Very good. A little bit emotional over my 7am George Street Social shakshuka good. 

Let’s just say, I can see why May Morning is a tradition that has continued. It was evident from the thousands-strong crowd that we like partying and singing at dawn just as much as people did 500 years ago (monks, after all, often weren’t as holy as they proclaimed). As a firm believer of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, I would certainly be surprised if students weren’t standing, hungover on Magdalen Bridge on May 1st for many more years to come.