It’s one of the most endearing debates on Bryn Mawr’s campus: what is the most beloved tradition on campus? Ask any Mawrter and she’ll tell you her favorite. Ask any alumna and she’ll share her memories. For anyone who hasn’t been to campus or experienced a tradition firsthand, they’re most easily described as holidays that are only celebrated at Bryn Mawr.
Most of our traditions have been celebrated since the 1800s. Generations of Bryn Mawr women are connected through the traditions as they are intangible links between Bryn Mawr’s rich past and its vibrant present. There are four major traditions held throughout the academic year: Parade Night, where fresh women parade through campus and are welcomed into the community; Lantern Night, the October evening when students gather in the Cloisters and each new student receives her lantern; Hell Week, which only sounds terrifying and cannot be explained, just experienced; and of course, May Day.
There are those who insist that no tradition can hold a candle to Lantern Night (pun intended), but May Day is definitely a highlight of the academic year. Held at the end of classes and before the start of finals, May Day is an all-day celebration. Some of the festivities, like may pole dancing or hoop races, have been around for more than a century. In recent years, additions such as barbecues and concerts have been added to the fun. A few constants remain—the day begins with a strawberry and cream breakfast and students wear all white. And May Day always concludes with a screening of The Philadelphia Story on Merion Green; this classic film stars Bryn Mawr alumna Katharine Hepburn.
May Day will allow students to look ahead to a well-deserved summer break, but it’s also one of the last campus gatherings for our Class of 2012. Here in the Admissions Office, we’re getting ready to say farewell to our awesome senior tour guides. Although saying goodbye to the seniors will be difficult (they are amazing!), we’re learning more about our incoming Class of 2016 and we’re very excited to have the next class join us this fall. But we won’t get too ahead of ourselves. This weekend, we just plan to join in the fun and celebrate.