Graduation Traditions Around the Globe
From raw eggs and flour to tailor-made hats and rings
You’ve done it, you’ve survived. After the copious amounts of caffeine-fuelled confusion, late night stress and maybe even exam hall terror, you have endured and you have now finally reached the bliss of graduation. The future looks bright and you are ready and enthusiastic to embark on the next adventure of your life. However, before you graduate there is just one more task to do. That is to hop naked in the five major fountains across the campus of course! Well, that is if you are a graduating student from Butler University. Though unfortunately most of us are not, and while we might be bummed out (pun intended) that we will not be able to participate in that tradition, here are a few other graduation traditions from all over the globe that just might tickle your fancy in preparation for KI’s own graduation ceremonies this summer from mid-May to early June.
At Edinburgh University friends shower each other in raw eggs and flour the moment they come out of their last exam to celebrate the end of student life.
Similarly at Oxford University, the long-held tradition called “trashing” is a celebration of the end of the final exam and involves a messy horde of students covered in egg, flour, confetti and shaving foam.
Meanwhile in Argentina this theme of “trashing” is taken up a notch. On the day of the last exam family and friends gath er to throw a whole range of messy and foul-smelling products at the students. This could range from something milder like ketchup to something more extreme like months of cultivated old milk. This tradition, although probably not the most pleasant, has good intentions and is meant to bring good luck for the future.
At the University of Witwatersrand of South Africa, once the formal graduation ceremony is over the song “I Got You (I Feel Good)” by James Brown is blasted across the hallways. This is usually followed by enthusiastic sing-a-longs and dancing.
In Zimbabwe the graduation ceremony is usually hosted by a guest of honor. Usually this person is the Chancellor of the University. However in state universities the President of Zimbabwe is both the chancellor and guest of honor. Therefore by receiving the diplomas each graduate gets to say that they have also shaken the hand of the President.
In the Philippines it is common to hold a baccalaureate mass a day before the graduation ceremony. This is especially true if the university has Catholic backgrounds. The service is believed to have originated from Oxford University when it was required that each student was to deliver a sermon in Latin. However as universities became less associated with religion this tradition served more as a purpose to honor those graduating. Today the baccalaureate mass is an interfaith festivity of songs and prayers to celebrate learning and wisdom.
At Yale University during graduation students smoke tobacco out of a clay pipe. Once the ceremony is over they then throw the pipes to the floor and crush it with their foot. This is meant to be a sign of relief and joy now that the university days are over.
In Finland, unlike the common graduation dress code that consists of the gown and mortarboard, the doctors to be conferred are required to wear a traditional doctoral hat and doctoral sword. This tailor-made hat is a representation of degree and status and the emblem attached to the front of it differs between universities and faculties.
Likewise in Sweden, along with the doctoral hat the doctorate is also given a doctoral ring “doktorsringar”. Although not mandatory these 18K gold rings are designed specifically for each faculty. However unlike the hat the ring is not mandatory during the conferment, but if in possession it is to be worn daily, on the left hand index finger.
At Karolinska Institutet the conferment ceremony for doctoral students are held twice a year in the Blue Hall of the Stockholm City Hall. The ceremony is followed by a banquet in the Golden Hall and the dress code is strictly formal, entailing long evening gowns and white tie and tailcoats. Some exceptions to the dress code are national costumes or military mess wears.
No matter the traditions, as bizarre they might be, the graduation ceremony is a precious moment shared with those we keep near. With that, on behalf of Medicor, I would like to wish everyone graduating this year big congratulations. •
Written by: Se Whee Park
This article was previously published in: Medicor 2016 #2