Q.What has the power to turn a tranquil grassy amphitheater into a pounding, pulsing epicenter of energy, noise and spirit? Of “Oooaaah, oooaaah!” and “Twenty-nineteen! Twenty-nineteen!”
The Laurel Parade, which marks the transition from MHC student to alumna, is one of the College’s most moving rituals. It traces back to 1900, when graduating seniors paid homage to Mount Holyoke College by placing two wreaths of laurel leaves and forget-me-nots in front of College founder Mary Lyon’s grave. They raised their voices, singing “Holyoke, Tried and True.” In 1902, garlands of laurel — laurel chains — were used in place of wreaths and flowers. And a Mount Holyoke College tradition was born. Watch the videos!
You know you’re a Mount Holyoke student when, as the spring semester nears to a close and final exams loom, you start getting excited for Pangynaskeia Day. By putting it on your calendar. Mentioning it on social media. Hoping for sunny skies and warm temps. Digging out a favorite lawn blanket. All perhaps to the initial puzzlement of those beyond the College’s gates.
“What’s … that? What do you mean? Where are you going?” asks your younger sibling or high school friend or parent.
“Oh, it’s just a spring thing!” you reply with a smile. That smile of knowing that at Mount Holyoke, a bevy of fascinating and slightly curious traditions continues with reckless abandon.
Before there was speech, was there song? Before there was ready light, was there a flickering glow? The deepest reaches of the human heart seem to know these truths instinctively. That such simple sensory experiences — voices raised, candles held close, warm bodies seated side by side — can elicit such profound feelings of comfort, peace and kinship speaks to the power of embedded memory. Were we made to sing? To make music? To be together? To reflect? To connect?
After two years of dogged fundraising — and raising of eyebrows throughout Massachusetts — one woman’s dream became a reality. In a time when higher education for women did not exist. When educating women was seen not just as unnecessary, but as harmful and subversive.