Wednesday, May 6, 2020

6 Facts About Graduation.

Graduation, Teen, High School, Student, Graduate Here in Alaska, both high school and college graduations are beginning to happen.  The seniors are due to graduate next week but due to the restrictions of the coronavirus, they won't be able to have a ceremony at the school.

So one of the local churches is hosting something with proper social distancing while the school is organizing a parade so the students will be able to drive through town and be recognized.

Rather than looking at it's history, I'm going to share some interesting and odd facts about graduation.

1. Graduates wear long gowns as they walk across the stage.  The gowns are known as full academic dress or regalia and this tradition began about 700 years ago when universities were just starting out.  At this time, universities didn't bother heating buildings so these gowns were worn to stay warm.  Later on, the full academic regalia became the mandated dress to keep students from going over the top with their regular outfits.

2.  The tradition of tossing caps at the end of the ceremony is a recent one.  It began at the Navel Academy in 1912.  Up until 1912, graduates from the Naval Academy were required to serve two years in the Navy before they could be commissioned as officers.  In 1912, that requirement was changed so they were commissioned immediately upon graduation, so this class no longer needed their undergrad caps and threw them to signify they were done with it.

3. The standard tune of Pomp and Circumstance that plays at most graduations was not written for that purpose.  Edward Elgar wrote the song in 1901 to honor King Edward VII and when Edward received an honorary degree from Yale in 1905, they played it in the background. Princeton adopted it in 1907, Chicago in 1908, Columbia in 1913, Vassar in 1916 and so on until it became the standard graduation song.

4.  Pomp and Circumstance is also known as "Land of Hope and Glory".  The title comes from a line in Shakespeare's Othello play referring to the glories of war.

5. Diplomas were originally made of sheepskin, thus the saying about receiving a sheepskin.  Universities hand wrote the information in ink on paper thin sheepskin that were rolled up and tied with a ribbon.  Once paper making techniques improved, they began making diplomas out of parchment but people complained about diplomas being rolled up and secured with ribbons because they were hard to flatten out and frame.

6. The cap's nickname "Mortar Board" comes from the fact it looked like a masonry tool used when the cap was originally created so it looked like the headgear worn by church officials in the 16th century.  Although the design changed over time, it's nickname did not.  The tassel was added in the 19th century.

This year, many of these traditions will not be happening but it is nice to know how certain traditions evolved across the centuries.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

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