In the Netherlands a pair of paranymphs (paranimfen) are present at the doctoral thesis defence. This ritual originates from the ancient concept where obtaining a doctorate was seen as a de facto marriage to the university. Furthermore the paranymphs would also act as a physical shield in case the debate became too heated, or as a backup for the doctoral candidate to ask for advice when answering questions. Today their role is symbolic and seen as a position of honor similar to a best man at a wedding.
Hoje fui convidada para ser paranymph. E se por acaso não conseguir acabar a tese, pelo menos terei passado pela experiência de me sentar em frente ao júri numa defesa, embora caladinha.