A Chilly Start to May

05/02/2011 01:27 pm ET | Updated Jun 30, 2011

Students from St. Andrews welcome the month of May with much enthusiasm and few clothes. Scotland's oldest university, celebrating its 600th year, has once again successfully hosted "the May Dip."

Thousands of students gather on the East Sands beach and run into the frigid North Sea water as the sun rises. Simultaneously bonfires and dance parties take place on the beach making the whole event nothing short of a spectacle. Students brave the freezing water of the North Sea not only for fun, but also to fight the myth of the 'PH.'

When walking on North Street, one of the four main streets, which makes up the town, you may come across the initials 'PH' in the cobblestone. If you see a student walking by, they will often hop over it or side-track around it. As the legend says, if you walk over the 'PH' you risk becoming cursed and failing your degree. The 'PH' stands for Patrick Hamilton, who was a Protestant Martyr burned at that very spot in 1528.

To reverse the curse, and mainly to have fun, those who can brave the extreme cold of the sea stay up until 5:30 AM to jump in the water.

St. Andrews is a school with a long history, and has recently received world attention as it was the meeting place for Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Duke and newly Duchess of Cambridge. With this in mind, St. Andrews has become the backdrop to their romantic fairy tale, and portrayed all throughout the international media as the picturesque town where one could meet their potential, well, prince!

But that's all irrelevant when you see the wild events of the May Dip unfold, for students of St. Andrews put all inhibitions aside and surrender to the cold, and a night of fun in the name of tradition and myth.

And on the upside, May can only get warmer from here.