The Caesarean Section

Gregory Holyoke 5 May 2019
Image Credit: Sophie Huskisson

When looking to research this story, it was surprisingly hard to actually find any context for the history behind it. Instead there were just numerous stories from all of the tabloids lamenting the apparently awful behaviour of students in recent years. While there are many articles featuring hundreds of pictures of barely clad revellers on Jesus green, and the infamous student who was set of fire a few years ago, there’s really very little about how this uniquely cantab tradition came to pass

Caesarean Sunday, apart from being the pre-cum to the Trinity May Ball for a Daily Mail photographer, is a staple of the Cambridge University summer calendar. Perhaps the last opportunity for the more studious to enjoy the excesses of life before hunkering down for the fast approaching exams, ‘C-Sunday’ actually has nye-on a century of history (whether that is shocking given the archaic rules of our university is up to you.)

Its roots, perhaps unsurprisingly, are in the antics of drinking societies. Over 80 years ago, the Jesus College drinking society, The Caesareans, made the short walk to the greens to wrestle the Girton ‘Green Monsters’ in what became an annual fight. The wrestling was banned five years ago, but the day still retains its importance for many drinking societies, who perform the infamous initiations on the Bank-Holiday Sunday.

That said, over 2000 people generally attend from the university, so the vast majority of revellers are just down to enjoy the fun, and they are the ones who make their own choice to drink far too much. The college authorities generally regard C-Sunday with a mixture of scorn and dread, with St John’s even banning its students from attending a few years ago. Although it’s easy to understand some people’s problems with a load of notoriously privileged kids getting wasted in a field, the utter vitriol of some papers’ reporting of it seems a bit unwarranted, and often seems like nothing more than a thinly veiled fetish. The papers juxtapose headlines about “chaotic,” “boozy” students descending on a “family park” with multiple pictures of half-naked students. Equally, while Jesus green may not be a needle-littered crack-den, it is effectively just a green space, not an especially reserved ‘family zone.’

The revelry that goes on is no more wild than a minor Cotswolds music festival like Cornbury, David Cameron’s favourite, and he did far more salacious things while at university than urinate in public shrubbery after a few too many beers, if only he had, maybe we wouldn’t be in such a mess. I digress.

Well, as you bask in the incredible 11° cloud-shine on Jesus green today, remember, you’re part of history, and smile, you’re probably in some random photographer’s sights.