Every college has its own culture, and with that, strange traditions that rise out of the curious things that can seemingly only happen on a college campus.
These idiosyncratic festivities make up the overall experience and feeling of college and keep the fabric of a college’s community woven together. Plus, they help balance the stress of school with some highly needed fun and general weirdness.
Here are colleges with some of the weirdest and most fun traditions:
Mount Olive College
Mount Olive College, located in Mount Olive, North Carolina, takes to the streets on the last week of April to celebrate the fermented cucumber more commonly known as the pickle. The Pickle Fest, as it’s called, involves copious amounts of pickle eating (of course), canned food drives, a Tour De Pickle, and other fun rides and activities. Whether you consider it a side dish, a snack, or a salty dessert, the pickle is getting the praise it deserves in Mount Olive. We just feel kind of bad for the olive.
College of William and Mary
In a J.K. Rowling-esque tone, the students of William and Mary take part in an annual Yule Log Ceremony just before they scatter for winter break. It’s the holiday tradition where the entire student body gathers in Wren Courtyard as cressets surrounding the area provide light and warmth for the students. Students listen to live holiday music, speakers share holiday traditions, and the college president gives a requisite reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Finals and How the Grinch Stole Christmas while wearing a Santa costume.
Since 1877, the women’s college in Northampton, Massachusetts has taken part in a strange but lovely tradition called Mountain Day. On an unannounced beautiful fall day, Smith College’s president rings the college bells to give students an unexpected but welcomed break from classes so that they can hike up the Mountain and pick apples.
Reed College truly honors education with their tradition called Paideia. The Greek word roughly translates to “education”. So about ten days before Reed’s spring semester begins, the campus takes part in Paideia–a time to enjoy education without academic pressures. Members of the college, from students to faculty to alumni, offer non-credit, informal courses and lectures on an array of topics. It’s learning without the pressure! True paideia.
A bust of German poet Friedrich Von Schiller that has flown on Air Force One, been dangled from a helicopter, signed by former President Bill Clinton, and most impressively made a cameo on the Colbert Report, is part of a long-running tradition at Carleton College. Since 1957, the students at Carleton take turns “stealing” and displaying the bust around campus. There are few rules to the game, but if the keeper of the Schiller bust is touched while holding the bust, he or she must immediately relinquish ownership without struggle. If you ever come across the bust, you know you’ve been “Schillered”.
Carleton College is just ripe with weird and great traditions. There’s also the baking cookies at Dacie’s tradition, where Carleton students honor the long-time Carleton employee, Dacie Moses’s, legacy of inviting students to her house for cookies and conversation. Dacie donated the house to Carleton College on the condition that it be used in continuing her cookies and a chat institution. What a yummy tradition.
The highly ranked progressive women’s college knows how to keep that feminine touch alive with their old school tradition of afternoon tea. Every Wednesday afternoon during the school year, Scripps hold afternoon tea in the beautiful Seal Court. Surrounded by a fountain and mosaic murals, the Scripps students can relax, chat, and even have one-on-one discussions with professors while sipping on some tea.
Oak Hills Christian College
Aptly named The Man and the Lake, the Oak Hills tradition follows that after a classmate’s engagement, the groom-to-be is thrown by his classmates into the campus lake. Friends of the betrothed carry him from his dorm to the dock and ask him two questions: “Do you love her?” and “Is she worth it?”. Say “yes” to both and your friends will most lovingly toss you into the cold Minnesota lake.
A surf and turf tradition known as Ski-Beach takes the students of Pomona College to opposite paradises in the same day. The Ski-Beach tradition takes a busload of Pomona students wearing serious winter gear up to the slops of Mountain High resort in the AM. By the afternoon, the students get back on the bus and head for the beach for a cookout, some swimming, and good old fashion beach time.