Grad Glory: The origin of graduation attire

Taken from RoboKriti.India's website

Graduation season is around the corner for many departing university students and excitement is bound to be the main emotion expressed throughout the celebrated event.

Finally, the time has arrived to proudly wear one’s graduation gown, smartly accompanied by one’s mortarboard cap and tassel, and sign off your successful journey of being a university student. Exciting future plans and reminiscing on the good old varsity days is what mostly distracts graduates on this very ceremonious day.

Not many take a second to savour the graduation ceremony and think about what it truly symbolizes or the special origin and symbolism behind the attire.

Traditional academic attire for graduates is the long fitted gown, mortarboard cap with a tassel and the academic colour band symbolizing one’s field of study. This rite of passage dates back to the 12th century when the first universities were founded in Europe. It was regarded as the utmost recognition and achievement from European clerics and professors who began the tradition of being clothed in the attire that resembled one’s academic achievement and higher intelligence.

During these times university lectures, classes and ceremonies were not held in formal institutions as they are today, but rather in church buildings, monasteries or even outside where students had to keep warm (thus the long gowns and caps). Additionally, the tradition of moving one’s tassel to the opposite end of the cap and the gesture of graduates throwing their caps in the air, symbolizes the ending and letting go of an old chapter and making the transition from student to master.

With an understanding of the symbolism behind traditional graduation ceremonies and its regalia, students who are on the threshold of graduating university should view this as a meaningful and pivotal moment in their lives. Everything about this day is symbolic and an absolute triumph, and should be celebrated as such.

Congratulations to all graduates of 2017!

Written by: Leigh Septoo