By Omar Nur-Nathoo
In Ancient Rome ‘lustrum’ referred to a purification ceremony that followed a census– a bit like the Big Bar Clean-up after Bartenders Weekend (but once every five years). Unlike Bartenders Weekend, however, the purification ceremonies in Ancient Rome involved animal sacrifices in order to appease their deities. So when University College Utrecht celebrates its third lustrum on April 13th, what exactly does this mean? Does College Hall sacrifice a platypus or sloth to Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom? No, unfortunately not so much.
Three ‘periods of five years’ (as ‘lustrum’ is now understood) ago, in 1998, the grand gates of UCU opened for a select group of pioneers- brave young students who sought to challenge the norms of education and, in doing so, challenge themselves. Fifteen years on and Hans Adriaansens’ small-scale, international liberal arts and sciences university colleges have become a hallmark of intellectual super-eminence, sprouting up across the Netherlands. Orchestrated by the UCSA Board and UCSA Festival Team, the upcoming 3rd Spring Lustrum Festival will serve as a celebration to commemorate this momentous anniversary.
Although the lustrum had been marked last semester in the form of a conference, its conjunction with the Spring Festival is actually fitting on a more nuanced level. The conceptions of cleansing and purification that derive from the etymological context of lustra, are also commonplace in many traditional beliefs about Spring. For instance the Spring Equinox was, in pagan religions, connected with the fertility god, Eostre, and celebrated a sense of renewal, which was later appropriated by Christianity in the form of Easter. Similarly, Nowruz (translated as ‘New Day’) is celebrated around this time in many cultures.
Preceded by the Inter-UC tournament, which will also take place on campus, the Spring Lustrum Festival will open the campus up to residents of Utrecht, and beyond, for a day filled with free food, drink and music. Committees will also be present, organising activities, or merely setting up stands to dispense goodies and information on what they do. Drawing upon both the vast talent pool present on-campus as well as external performers, such as DJs from LUX, the festivities promise good vibes, loud music, and, moreover, the potential to bring a little of the outside world inside the bubble.
“It’s going to be a smash!” commented one member of the Festival Team, charged with bringing this festival from possibility to reality.