Brandi Perez

Graduation season is upon us!

In honor of this exciting time for graduates, here are some fun facts about graduation:

  • Diplomas were originally made of sheepskin. The words were written in ink on paper-thin sheepskin, allowed to dry and then rolled up and tied with a ribbon. Once papermaking techniques were improved they began printing diplomas on parchment paper. The ribbon was ditched when graduates complained how difficult it was to frame the diploma after being rolled up.
  • Tossing of the caps originated during a Naval Academy ceremony in 1912. When students of the academy graduated, they were no longer commissioned to wear their caps. Throwing them in the air symbolized completion.
  • Commencement regalia (cap and gown) is a longstanding tradition since the formation of universities in the 12th Historically, scholars wore long gowns and hoods to keep warm in unheated buildings. Although gown colors vary among institutions, degrees are assigned specific tassel colors that are standardized.
  • “Pomp and circumstance” is a well-known graduation song that plays while graduates walk to receive their diploma. However, this song was not composed with the intent of being used for graduations. It was originally created for King Edward VII by the 20th century composer Edward Elgar. When Elgar received an honorary doctorate from Yale in 1905 the song played in the background and made a major impression on other institutions and is now the go to graduation song.
  • The commencement cap, or “mortarboard”, originated with headgear worn by church dignitaries in the 16th The style has been modified over the years and are called mortarboards because they resemble a masonry tool of the same name. The tassel was added in the 19th century and is to be worn on the right side prior to the candidate receiving their degree. Once they receive their degree the tassel is to be moved to the left.

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