What is a cantus?

The student life is the best part of your life say many. Suddenly, the world opens, far away from mom and dad, and you become responsible for filling up your day. This new life is uncertain for everyone, but soon you are welcomed by a kring, a group of enthusiast student who wants to show you the legendary student life, from fakbars to the Old Market, many TD’s and of course cantus.

So, what is it?

Cantus, stems from the Latin word for singing: cantare. It’s an evening event where you sing songs from a student codex with your friends while you are supplied with beer or water. Sounds fantastic, but to have the best night, some rules are instituted. Firs of all, there are three people at the front, the senior, the cantor, and the censor. The censor is there to keep order. He is helped by shifters, who not only bring beer, but also ask people to be keep quiet and behave. The cantor is the first singer, he’s the one who knows the song the best and tries to be the example for the corona. The corona is the public. The senior is the president. He or she decides what is singed when we drink together and who may speak. Most of the time, he is a public figure like the praeses. Together this team of three people is there to bring you an unforgettable evening.

What do you need to cantus?

Not that much. Normally something to drink from and a songbook suffices. For us this songbook is the student codex, the holy bible of the student. Most importantly, it’s a songbook containing a variety of themes: folklore, drinking, love and the anthems of the Kringen. The green codex is published by the KVHV and is used in all of Flanders excluding Gent. Furthermore, the codex is a priceless memorable for many students. This is because many students write in their/each other codex. This can be a funny text, an extension of a song, a list of all the cantus you have done… Pro-Tip: don’t write things on the hard covers, these often come loose. Write instead on one of the white pages before the blue pages. This brings us to the next part of the codex: the blue pages. The blue pages divide the anthems and the other songs and contains all the rules for a cantus and the working of a student associations. You may not write in the blue pages unless you are part of a praesidium.

But how does it go?

Following tradition, a cantus consists of three parts separated by a tempus (a short break where you can talk and visit the toilet). In the event description you often read: ‘doors: 20h00, Io vivat 20h30’. From the moment the doors open, everyone is welcome to enter and take a seat, from the moment the Io vivat is sung, the cantus is officially started. Because of their meaning and heritage, a cantus is always started with an Io vivat and followed by the Gaudeamus Igitur. Then the organising kring sings their anthem. This is directly celebrated with the first common ad fundum. After that, the other krings may sing their songs and then the cantus is properly started. It’s important to note that now one should drink more than their limit and may never be forced to drink involuntarily.

Mathias Waerebeek, written for VTK, 2020 (translated by JVL)

Schacht, corona, praeses, ad fundum… The student life has its own jargon and history and thus deserves an explanation. Since the emergence of universities in the 12th century seek students, each other’s company accompanied by keg and beer. During hundreds of years, student associations saw the day of light with their own, rules, songs, language, symbolism, and garment. Nowadays, we still find remnants of this history: the anthems, glasses withs shield printed on them praesidium lint’s. With VTK, we continue these ancient traditions. These are not only passed on from mouth to mouth but are written down in the codex. The blue pages were written in the middle of the 20ts century with the purpose of structuring and uniform the club evenings and cantus. It’ was based on the German model and different krings have given it their own spin. Not only contains it the formals songs and rules, but it also contains the meaning of some typical vocabulary.

A summary:

  • Ad fundum: meaning ‘to the bottom’, used when a glass needs to be drank to the bottom
  • Ad lbidum: ‘as you prefer’ can be answered if you don’t want to drink to the bottom
  • Ad sedes: command to sit down, must be answered with ‘sedimus’ by the corona
  • Corona: everyone present who is not working and not at the front table
  • Club: a not faculty bound student association, mostly but not necessarily based on origin region
  • Prosit: to wish someone a good drink
  • Surgite: command to stand up, answered by ‘surgimus’ by the corona
  • Tempus: break during the differ parts where you can’t talk and visit the toilet