There are many moments during a commencement ceremony that stick out as defining — the processional, hearing the nostalgic “Pomp and Circumstance,” the diploma presentation, etc., but the one that is often dubbed as being the most fun is the conclusion where students are officially announced as graduates and toss their caps in the air! It signifies both the end and beginning of a chapter — but who came up with this idea, what is the tradition of throwing graduation caps and how did it stick, turning into a tradition?
You will get to know everything in this blog about hat symbolization, its traditions, and many more. So let’s start…
What Do the Graduation Hats Symbolize?
The graduation cap, commonly known as the mortarboard, features a distinctive square hat with a flat, square top and a suspended tassel in the center. This unique design has become an iconic symbol synonymous with the academic realm.
The mortarboard’s origins can be traced back to the medieval era, when scholars in the 14th and 15th centuries sported similar headgear. Over time, this headpiece underwent gradual transformations, eventually evolving into the iconic cap we now recognize as the mortarboard. Its widespread adoption by universities and educational institutions served to cement its status as an enduring symbol of academic achievement and learning.
The graduation cap’s tassel holds symbolic significance. Students typically start with it on one side and move it to the other upon receiving their diploma, symbolizing the transition from candidate to graduate and marking the end of their academic journey, ushering in a new chapter in their lives.
What is the Tradition of Throwing Graduation Caps?
The act of a senior tossing their graduation cap marks the conclusion of one chapter and the commencement of another. This ritual is commonly observed in high schools and universities at the end of the academic year. It is a celebratory gesture symbolizing the accomplishments of graduating students.
In 1912, the Naval Academy pioneered the tradition of tossing graduation caps at commencement ceremonies. This unique practice stemmed from the fact that Navy graduates, who served their initial two years as midshipmen before becoming full-fledged officers, wore distinct hats during this period. Upon graduation, a new hat was presented, and the officers joyously threw their old caps into the air. This Naval Academy tradition swiftly caught on at universities nationwide, evolving into the triumphant symbol of celebration and great achievement.
The popularity of tassels on graduation caps has surged over the past 50 years, accompanied by a meaningful tradition. After receiving their diploma, students ceremoniously move the tassel from right to left. This symbolizes their transformative journey from student to graduate.
Manufacturers, now often craft caps and gowns from recycled plastic. This provides students with unique designs to celebrate their school colors and individual styles. These changes give students more choices in their cap and gown than ever before. You can even customize your grad stole for the graduation ceremony at MyGradStole official website.
Hats Off to New Beginnings
The graduation cap and gown are not mere garments; they are emblems of knowledge, perseverance, and achievement. I hope this blog has helped you understand what is the tradition of throwing Graduation Caps. Their symbolism, rooted in history and tradition, encapsulates the journey of scholars across time. As graduates don these iconic symbols, they enter a new phase of life, equipped with wisdom and ready to face the world.