Spotlight On School Traditions

William & Mary participates in many traditions throughout the school year. Convocation marks the official beginning of the academic year. Having begun in 1993, the tradition of welcoming new students and celebrating the beginning of a new academic year is shared amongst all students, faculty, and staff. The president of the university leads new students through the Wren Building where they are greeted by cheers and high fives of current students, faculty, and staff. 

A little farther into the school year is Homecoming & Reunion Weekend. During this weekend in October, William & Mary Alumni and friends travel to campus to reunite within parties and receptions, attend department open houses, tailgate and watch a football game, and attend the Sunset Ceremony to honor alumni who have passed away in the previous year. Current students can utilize this time to network with alumni and enjoy the school spirit celebrations. 

Right before winter break, students gather in the Wren Courtyard to witness the Yule Log celebration. Full of festive live music, singing, readings, sugar cookies, cider, and a holiday reading from the university president, the Yule Log celebration is a time to reflect on the semester and prepare for the upcoming holidays. Students toss ceremonial sprigs of holly into the Yule log fire in the Wren Great Hall Fireplace for good luck and decorate trees with paper doves containing messages of gratitude. 

After the beginning of the spring semester on February 8th is Charter Day; the annual celebration of the granting of William & Mary’s Royal Charter in 1693 (the beginning of the university!) During Charter Day celebrations there are speakers, a concert, and distribution of honors and awards to students, faculty, and alumni. 

After spring break is One Tribe One Day (OTOD). This day is all about showing support for the William & Mary community by donating to university departments. OTOD celebrations include challenges, a variety of events, and a carnival in the Sunken Garden. For alumni, family, and friends not on campus, there are regional celebrations across the country to participate in this tradition. 

At the end of each school year, the Royal Ball is held under the stars in the Sunken Garden. Enjoy food, live music from student bands, and dancing to celebrate the end of the academic year. 

The Last Day of Classes (LDOC) is a highly anticipated day for students. A variety of celebrations are included such as the Sunken Garden party filled with free food, games, and live music. Enjoy fun activities like friendship bracelet making, massages, games, and more across campus to celebrate the end of the spring semester. Seniors have the opportunity to ring the ceremonial Wren Bell after finishing their last class at William & Mary. 

In preparation for commencement, seniors gather in the Wren Courtyard the night before graduation for the candlelight ceremony. During this ceremony a faculty member, administrator, and student elected by the class speak while light from a Wren Candle is passed from student to student. 


“William & Mary Traditions.” William & Mary, Accessed 28 June 2023. 

“Homecoming & Reunion Weekend oct. 19-22, 2023.” Homecoming & Reunion Weekend – William & Mary, Accessed 28 June 2023. 

“Yule Log Celebration.” William & Mary, Accessed 28 June 2023. 

“Charter Day.” William & Mary, Accessed 28 June 2023. 

“About Charter Day.” William & Mary, Accessed 28 June 2023. 

“Events.” One Tribe One Day, Accessed 28 June 2023. 

“The Royal Ball.” TribeLink, Accessed 28 June 2023. 

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