Graduation Fun Facts!

5 Facts That Every Graduate Should Know!

  • Tossing of the graduation hat is a tradition signaling the end of the ceremonies. The flight of the hat symbolizes the flight of the graduates to whatever awaits them. (And hey if what awaits them is a graduation party, you’re going to need these 65 Super Secret Party Tips!)
  • Diplomas were originally made of sheepskin. The words were written in ink on paper-thin sheepskin, allowed to dry, then rolled up and tied with a ribbon. Later, they were printed on parchment when papermaking techniques improved. They ditched the ribbons when graduates complained that the rolled up, curled up diplomas were difficult to frame.
  • “Pomp and Circumstance” was originally composed in 1901 by Sir Edward Elgar. The tune was eventually adopted by Princeton in 1907, Chicago in 1908, Columbia in 1913, Vassar in 1916, and Rutgers in 1918 as their official graduation ceremony accompaniment.
  • The commencement cap, or “mortarboard,” originated with headgear worn by church dignitaries in the 16th century. Though the style has been greatly modified over the years, the caps are called mortarboards because of their resemblance to a masonry tool of the same name. (Who knew?) The tassel was added in the 19th century. Protocol requires the tassel to be worn on the right side of the mortarboard until the candidate receives his/her degree. Then it’s moved to the left.
  • In the 1300s, scholars and clerics at European universities would wear long robes to stay warm and comfortable in the largely unheated buildings. The practice became so common that, eventually, the robes and gowns were recognized as “official” attire, with little to no room allowed for leeway.

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