Graduation Rituals
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GRADUATION RITUALS

The standardizations of academic regalia in the Middle Ages model a convergence of European wisdom traditions. As the first universities emerged, academic gowns were adopted from the Christian Clergy, whose attire came from the Catholicism of Rome, which drew from older Classical and near eastern adornments. Mortarboards, the oddest articles in all of academia, were named after the Masonry tool that shares its shape.* Whether or not the Masters' Hood represents the heightened intelligence of Druids remains up for debate. Across centuries and around the world, these are the vestments of a college graduate.
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The standardizations of academic regalia in the Middle Ages model a convergence of European wisdom traditions. As the first universities emerged, academic gowns were adopted from the Christian Clergy, whose attire came from the Catholicism of Rome, which drew from older Classical and near eastern adornments.  Mortarboards, the oddest articles in all of academia, were named after the Masonry tool that shares its shape.* Whether or not the Masters' Hood represents the heightened intelligence of Druids remains up for debate. Across centuries and around the world, these are the vestments of a college graduate.
Ceremonies for graduating students date from the first universities in Europe in the twelfth century. At that time Latin was the language of scholarship. A universitas was a guild of masters (such as MAs) with licence to teach. "Degree" and "graduate" come from gradus, meaning "step". The first step was admission to a bachelor's degree. The second step was the masters step, giving the graduate admission to the universitas and license to teach. Typical dress for graduation is gown and hood, or hats adapted from the daily dress of university staff in the Middle Ages, which was in turn based on the attire worn by medieval clergy.[4]

The tradition of wearing graduation hats in Sweden has been in place since the mid-eighteenth century. The cap is typically a white sailor hat with a black or dark blue band around it, a crown motif, and a black peak at the front. The graduation hat tradition was initially adopted by students at Uppsala University. The headgear then became popular across several other European nations as well.[5]
While medieval universities initially inspired the academic dress, the first recognized schools that officiated graduation attire were Oxford and Cambridge. By 1321, they forbade “excessive apparel” in universities requiring everyone to wear long gowns during ceremonies to create unity.

The significance of the hood dates back to Celtic Groups and Druid priests who wore capes with hoods that symbolized higher intelligence and superiority. The first picture is said to be from the 18th century, and the picture on the right is of modern Druids.

The mortarboard borrows its name from the flat board used by bricklayers to lay mortar. Therefore, some people believe the reason the cap is square because it represents the mortar board of a master workman. Despite the uncertainty of origin, the style has remained accepted and popular at most educational institutions.

This original European academic style was pervasive throughout the centuries and even into colonial America. After the Civil War, academic regalia was reserved strictly for graduation.
Mortarboards

Today, the most traditional style of graduation hat is the mortarboard cap. Mortarboard caps are thought to have been created in the 15th century, as part of an evolution from a hat type known as a birettas which was used by Catholic clerics and professors.

The distinctive square shape of a mortarboard is believed to signify a book, chosen in recognition of scholarly achievements. However, the name mortarboard actually comes from the flat board used by bricklayers to lay mortar. Thus, the name of the widely accepted graduation hat also represents the mortar board of a master workman.
What is a new experience for most college graduates is actually a centuries-old rite of passage, from the degree once carefully scrawled on sheepskin ages ago, to the ceremony, which originated as Islamic tradition.

The concept of receiving a degree comes from Islam and is associated with getting a degree from a set curriculum, said Glen Cooper, BYU history professor. The ceremony, in Islamic tradition, is vindication of knowledge that licenses one to teach what one has learned.

The baccalaureate ceremony originates to 1432 at Oxford University where each bachelor was required to deliver a sermon in Latin as part of an academic exercise, according to the Net Glimpse Internet Web site, which deals with the history of ritual ceremonies.
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