It is feared Ascension Day events will be affected today following the outbreak of mumps last week at Brasenose College.
Ascension Day commemorates Jesus’ ascension into heaven and is remembered in Oxford through various traditions.
A door joining Lincoln and Brasenose is usually opened for a short time to allow Brasenose students to pass through and drink ale, which is infused with ivy to discourage students from drinking more than one glass.
Whilst the origin of the tradition is uncertain, Brasenose college website explains that it derives from the murder of a Brasenose student.
One story suggests that, centuries ago, a Brasenose student was refused entry into Lincoln whilst being pursued and was subsequently murdered. Another account maintains that a Lincoln student once killed a Brasenose man in a duel.
Another Oxford tradition sees groups from both the church of St. Michael at the Northgate and St. Mary the Virgin strike the boundaries of the parishes and mark them with chalk in a tradition called “The Beating of The Bounds”.
However, due to the outbreak of mumps at Brasenose College last week, the annual events are reportedly being cut down on this year.
The boundaries of the parishes go through many different points in Oxford, including a point within Brasenose College, and it is unclear whether the groups will go into Brasenose on Thursday.
Lincoln Rector, Professor Woudhuysen, said: “Fellows from Brasenose College have been invited to Lincoln College for ivy ale, and the ale is also being sent from Lincoln to Brasenose students. The beating of the bounds will start at 10.00am from St. Michael at the North Gate.”
Henry Zeffman, Brasenose JCR president, said: “It’s quite natural that Lincoln College is concerned to avoid any undue risk of infection to their finalists and therefore might want to reconfigure the standard arrangements for the day in some suitable way.”
“I have no reason to doubt, though, that the spirit of the day will still properly be served – as will plenty of Ivy Ale to happy Brasenose folk.”
Another student showed his enthusiasm for the alcoholic tradition, suggesting that ‘maybe they could leave it at the lodge’.