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1908 Legenda

The following information about campus celebrations is taken from the 1908 Legenda.



WHEN Tree Day originated trees were truly planted, but now we are so forehanded as to plant weeks ahead the little class sapling. On that first Tree Day of '77, however, the little Sophomore class of '79, and the Freshman class of '8o, gathered in front of College Hall and planted, amid speeches and songs, the two silver pines Mr. Hunnewell had given. It was a very simple ceremony, then, but the breeze rustled gaily the white tissue paper caps and the blue rosettes and streamers, and carried the applause and the laughter across the campus just as it does now.

As the college grew, so did Tree Day. Freshmen and Seniors began claiming it as their own, and, as the tree songs were omitted. the speeches became more prominent and significant. The class of '84 was the first to grace the day in caps and gowns, and to plant the ivy on College Hall. Four years later was the first real Tree Day pageant.

So it is that now, on some mid-June afternoon, the procession first gains all our interest, led off, as it is, by the Seniors in sober cap and gown. The Juniors, white-garbed, follow, carrying their class flower; while over by the Shakespeare House a motley throng of Sophomores restlessly awaits its turn. Through the trees on the hill rainbow lights flit to and fro, presaging the dances to follow. It has come to be the one time in all the year when we can tell Alma Mater a little of all the beauty she has brought to Endymion or of the love of Pan for Syrinx.

Some keen speeches, apropos of every episode throughout the career of the Seniors, and of Tree Day in particular, are supposed to furnish even a more graceful transition to the dances in hand. The Senior orator closes up all old scores to the amusement and chagrin of Juniors and Freshmen, while the Sophomore Giver of the Spade adds a few finishing touches to this chagrin. All hope for the Freshmen rests with their Receiver of the Spade, though after her the Freshman orator delivers a simple closing speech.

Tree Day

Then before the crowded slopes the stories of the day are danced, with all the beauty of music and graceful motion. So much may light feet, ingenuity, and cheese-cloth do. As the last moon sprite or faun disappears over the hill or behind the trees, there is a sudden scattering, a rush of bright color, while the Freshmen sweep across the Green to surround their tree before the Sophomores can reach it. Rising now to importance. the tree wears the class colors, and for the first time the Freshman song and cheer is given to the public. Surely the footing of the class is at last secure, and there have been great things accomplished through the agency of a pretty pageant.

By now the shadows have grown long and dusky, and the loveliness of the afternoon is lost in the soft darkness of the night, a darkness broken after a while by twinkling lanterns and gay Senior Serenade songs, which, too, die away into wistful echoes amid the drowsy stirring of the oaks.

Ivy & Rose Planting

ON Tree Day, there is one more agricultural undertaking. The junior class of each year plants a rose bush or some ivy, according to whether it is an odd or even class. This little ceremony is held at some moment of that full day when the class gathers to hear the chosen orator, and to see the new plant put in the ground, to live or die.


FLOAT NIGHT, in contrast to Tree Day, is Wellesley's great, open, outof-door festival. People gather from far and near to view the unique spectacle that Lake Waban and a starry night alone can produce. From the outer rim of darkness into the brightness of College Hall Cove come the crews, by classes first, followed by the college and club crews, while from the shore the lights throw over each boat its class color. When the crews singly have been exhibited to most advantage, all together form the "W," and the star, while the Glee Club paddles out to join in singing the various crew songs. After the singing and cheering are over comes a parade of decorated floats scarcely to be recognized as the every-day Canadian skiffs. Fireworks, a friendly moon, the music of Natick's best band, and the tiny Japanese lanterns glinting through the trees, all make the evening a "grand, good time," as one promenades with one's friends up and down Tupelo.

Boat Christening

EACH Freshman class must needs christen their new boat. This christening is another of those secret affairs of which only the two sister classes and the crews are supposed to have any previous knowledge, Some unsuspected morning, noon, or night, is chosen, on which the new boat emerges from beneath the grape-juice bottle in possession of an Indian, Chinese, or other musical sounding appellation. By the time it is all over a crowd has assembled, and the air rings with song and cheer.

May Day

WHO is not young on May Day? As though we were back in the days of our childhood, we arise blithely in the gray dawn, and, grasping our Sapolio, off we dash to give Harriet and the Back Woodsman their spring scrubbing. Even this strenuous effort cannot quench in our hearts the exuberant spirit of youth, for at chapel time, the reverend Seniors, with flapping gowns and caps awry, puff down the Hill from College Hall in mad pursuit of their hoops. Inspired by their lofty example, the whole college hoops it up in the afternoon, when the Green is dotted with groups of Kate Greenaway girls and Buster Browns. Around the May-pole dance little pickaninnies with their colored mammies, Lord Fauntleroys and Teddy Bears, while the organ-grinder from afar turns his crank lustily. At the end of the day the Freshman president is crowned Queen of the May, inspite of the fact that most of the merrymakers are off eating ice cream and candy from a stand, the proceeds of which go to -- what next?

Forensic Burning

IN these days, "Forensic Burning" means burning with curiosity more than anything else. When all is over, when Juniors and Sophomores are naturally feeling withered and brown and dried, the custom receives some scorching criticism. It is believed that at some near date the burning will go up in smoke and become mere tradition, but such an iconoclastic movement has not been in our time. For the fearful cause of the custom has been quenched. Juniors are no longer troubled by having to "go out from their three forensics" and their beds simultaneously. However, English 2 in Sophomore year, furnishes a good substitute, and the Junior President's Sophomore forensic is equally inflammable. Yet it is the secrecy, the sleepless night, the cold dlawn that kindle enthusiasm.

If the rite be successfully performed in some corner of the campus with no wet-blanket Sophomores about, the next evening sees the ghost-like procession wending its way by candle-light over the Green and past College Hall. The mournful dirge casts a spell over the scene as the Sophomores creep away to extinguish the juniors' fire all over again in their dreaming.

Math Burial

Somewhere on the beautiful Wellesley campus is a lonely grave. Where is that verdant grave? It lies in no ordered cemetery, but afar on some lone hillside, or perhaps in the spacious grove surrounding the Lake Waban Laundry. The mound grows green, watered by the tears of the sympathetic Sophomores present at the interment. Yet few return thither to mourn for the dear departed. Perhaps they fear to hear a voice from the grave, for if that sepulchre could utter its secrets, it would speak at least three volumes. So the spot is shunned, though some are haunted far along their college course by the fearsome shades of that which is hidden there, while others are hounded from our gates forever to escape pursuit of that relentless ghost.

"Hic Jacet!" -- the close companion of every Wellesley girl, entombed, some say, in the Devil's coffin. But let us not disturb the sleeping. Dust to dust, and ashes to ashes.

Ice Carnival

THE Ice Carnival is a poor weak-spirited sort of custom, that, for its uncertainty, is scarcely deserving of the name. For it is always being elbowed out of the way by its more energetic and persistent rivals, and when there is a mad attempt to hurry it through, fireworks, band and all, the hot pursuit of fun and funds usually melts the ice.

Field Day

THROUGH the West Lodge gate the procession streams in quick march time to the mingled music of drums and tin pans. The other classes follow, each striving to be most gaudily bedizened with the class color divers cheese-cloth and tissue paper creations. First to the Tennis Court, then, as one after another the other games begin, the formal line breaks and basket-ball and hockey in turn are loudly applauded by the throng that surges alongy the taut side ropes, leaning far forward to see a particularly good pass. Through the crowd wild clowns dash, guarding huge trays and crying --

"One a penny -- two a penny,
      Hot cross buns."

Pennies and nickels rattle into their cups, and between cheers there is a contented munching among the spectators.

Toward the end of the morning panting messengers enter with the scores of Golf and Running, and later, when all the games are finished, the four classes again march to the table on which stand the challenge cups. The class squads sit upon the ground in a semi-circle before the table. Behind, the swaying, pushing mass of the classes cheer heartily when the President of the Athletic Association awards the challenge cups and the W's. After the college cheer the crowd separates and -- Field Day is over.

1908 Legenda


Copyright 2005 Jennifer K. Mathews. This site is not affiliated with Wellesley College.