Traditions and Legends

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At the College of William and Mary, there is a great number of traditions, secret locations, rumors, and urban legends. This page is meant as a brief introduction to these varied events, locations, and stories.

William and Mary Events

  • Blowout: Imbibe in quantities of alcohol to mark the last day of classes. The tradition of blowout started with the late 1960s tradition of "Breakout" where students on the last day of classes would dive into the pool at the Williamsburg Inn. The term "blowout" was started in the 1970s with parties at the end of the fall and spring semesters hosted by the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity. Over time, blowout was only marked on the last day of classes by seniors in the spring semester. Today, blowout has expanded to the fall semester and to underclassmen. Graduating seniors may also visit their freshmen dorms and toast their first dorm room. The university began offering alcohol-free alternatives to commemorate the final day of classes circa 2005 with games, food, and entertainment on the Sunken Garden.
  • Charter Day
  • Commemoration Day
  • Commencement
    • Candlelight Ceremony: The evening candlelight ceremony on the eve of commencement was first held in May 1978.
    • Walk Across Campus: The commencement ceremony currently begins with the graduates gathering in front of the Wren Building for a brief ceremony, walking through the building's central hallway, and across campus to William and Mary Hall where the commencement ceremony is held. The walk across campus is led by the outgoing Student Association president who carries the College Mace and by the faculty marshalls. It was first held in May 1978.
  • King and Queen’s Ball: Held at the end of each Spring semester; created in the 1980s based on a previously discontinued dining and concert event. (King and Queen's Ball, Tour Guides Blog)
  • Opening Convocation
  • Yule Log Ceremony

Other Activities

  • Triathlon: (1) Jump the wall of the Governor's Palace in Colonial Williamsburg and/or run through the maze of the Governor's Palace, (2) Swim (sometimes naked) in the Crim Dell, (3) streak across the Sunken Garden. There is reportedly also an English Majors Triathlon with one component being spending 24 hours in Swem Library.

Legends

  • If a couple kisses on the bridge across the Crim Dell, they will inevitably marry. To reverse this destiny, a person can later throw their partner off of the bridge. If a person walks across the bridge alone they will not marry.

Hauntings

  • The spirits of several disgruntled former students are said to haunt Tucker Hall.[1]
  • The spirits of students who were forced to attend the Indian School that was housed in the Brafferton run across campus, especially the Sunken Garden, at night.

"Secret" Locations

References

Share What You Know

The SCRC welcomes various forms of support from friends and supporters. Here at the SCRC Wiki we welcome visitors to share what you may know about our collections as well as the traditions, history, and people of the College of William and Mary based on your research or personal experience.

If you would like to share your memories or what you have discovered while using the SCRC's collections, please contact us at spcoll@wm.edu or 757-221-3090. We look forward to hearing from you.

Need help?

To search for further material, visit the Special Collections Research Center's Search Tool List for an overview of the Special Collections Database, W&M Digital Archive, Flat Hat-William & Mary News-Alumni Gazette index, card catalogs, and other tools available to help you find material of interest in the Swem Library's Special Collections Research Center.

Questions? Contact the Special Collections Research Center at spcoll@wm.edu or 757-221-3090, or visit the Special Collections Research Center in the Earl Gregg Swem Library at the College of William and Mary.

A Note About The Contents Of This Wiki
The information available in this wiki is the best available from known documents and sources at the time it was written. Unfortunately, many of the early original records of the College of William and Mary were destroyed by fires, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. The information available here is the best available from known documents and sources at the time it was written. Information in this wiki is not complete as new information continues to be uncovered in the Swem Library's Special Collections Research Center and elsewhere. Researchers are strongly encouraged to use the Special Collections search tools for their research as the information contained in this wiki is by no means comprehensive.