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Graduation Traditions and Rituals from Around the World

Graduation Traditions and Rituals from Around the World

Your graduation is the most treasured and significant event that happens throughout your university career, with traditions and formalities taken very seriously depending on the country you live in. Every country has their own approach to graduation ceremony rituals, including cultural traditions and plans. We’ve rounded up the most exciting and interesting graduation traditions from around the globe for you to read.


6 Graduation Rituals from Different Countries

1. British Caps and Gowns

The history behind why the British wear caps and gowns is extensive and has roots in the 12th century. Historically worn by the Roman Catholic clergy, graduation caps sit upon graduates head to symbolise superiority and intelligence. Similarly, the graduation tradition of wearing a long gown is steeped in history. The gown was made popular in the Middle Ages due to the cold temperatures of classrooms. Scholars would wear long gowns with hoods to keep themselves warm. Nowadays, a fun graduation ritual for students is to toss their graduation caps into the air whilst posing for a picture. British graduation ceremonies remain relatively formal, with friends gathering before the ceremony to drink champagne and celebrate. The day ends with family gathering for a meal out afterwards to toast the graduate. Most recently, at home graduation ceremonies have become popular due to the pandemic. As in-person presentations haven’t been possible, students and professors have taken to Zoom to carry out the event. However, graduation traditions are still very much alive, with students still throwing their graduation caps into the air, albeit in their living room!

2. Swedish Partying

You may imagine Swedish graduation to be akin to Midsommer: beautiful food, gracious gift-giving and extensive grazing platters; however, the actualities of the day are far from it. After washing down breakfast with a glass of champagne, students put on their name-embroidered studentmossa (a sailor hat) and leave for graduation. After the ceremony, students are greeted by large banners held by parents and friends outside the venue, adorned with baby pictures and embarrassing images. One of the most sentimental graduation rituals now takes place, with family members gifting the graduate a memorable item, which they will keep for the rest of their life; a trinket, trophy or teddy bear. Thanks to the sunny Swedish summer weather, their final graduation tradition involves a lot of partying outside. All piled onto the back of a flatbed truck; the graduates are paraded around town blaring loud music, drinking and dancing.

3. Italian 'Trashing'

Italian graduations are very different to most other country's ceremonies; whilst the ceremony is formal, the tone changes afterwards and that's when the fun begins. Food fights and chanting end the day, but let’s start at the beginning. Graduates adorn themselves with ‘laurel’, which are flower wreath crowns sold by florists all across town. Once in the ceremony, graduates must answer a question in detail before the academic board in front of gathered guests. The graduates will have received a list of potential questions in advance that refer to their area of expertise; however, they do not know which of these questions they will be asked. After the graduation ceremony, things start to become slightly more informal. In the name of Italian graduation ceremony rituals, graduates are lovingly hazed by their friends and family with the hopes of embarrassing them. ‘Trashing’, as it’s called, involves throwing substances including eggs, glitter, flour or even ketchup over the students. Italian universities have now stated that anything thrown (including confetti, glitter, etc.) must be biodegradable!