150 Years of Tradition at Syracuse University: a digital exhibition

Celebrating the University Community Introduction

Many traditions celebrate the Syracuse University community, its stories, and its values. Whether these celebrations focus on individual groups on campus or the University as a whole, traditions bring the community together and honor a shared past. In addition to the events displayed here, there are innumerable other ways the University has celebrated its community, including National Orange Day, Moving Up Day, and homecoming. Altogether these traditions exalt in a strong sense of community, diversity, solidarity, and sharing.

Winter Carnival program, 1946. Syracuse University Student Activities Collection, University Archives.

Originating in 1933, Winter Carnival was a weekend of dances, winter sports, and a snow sculpture contest. The University still celebrates this event with a chili cook off and other social activities.

“Winterama 1956,” Winter Carnival button. Syracuse University Memorabilia Collection, University Archives.

Photograph of Spring Weekend parade, circa 1940s-1950s. Syracuse University Photograph Collection, University Archives.

Spring Weekend was an occasion full of traditions that first started at the University with Women’s Day in the 1910s and lasted through the 1960s. The weekend included a strawberry breakfast, tug-o-wars between classes, and a female chorale competition on Hendricks Chapel’s steps. Also popular were the parade of floats and the pageant when the May Queen and her court were chosen.

“Martin Luther King Holiday with Harry Belafonte” poster, 1990. Syracuse University Special Events, University Archives.

Beginning in the mid-1980s, the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration has grown to become one of the largest salutes to Dr. King’s legacy on a university campus. Each year the Syracuse community gathers for the dinner in the Carrier Dome. The festive program includes performances, a presentation of the Unsung Hero Awards, and a keynote speaker. Past speakers have included Andrew Young, Gwen Ifill, and Trevor Noah.

Photograph of singers at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, 2003. Syracuse University Photo & Imaging Collection, University Archives. Photograph by Stephen Sartori.

“Out/Ally” poster for National Coming Out Week at Syracuse University, 2007. Courtesy of the LGBT Resource Center.

The Out/Ally List, once also known as the You Are Not Alone List, is today called the Queer and Trans Solidarity List. Since 2005, the LGBT Resource Center has collected names for publication in the Daily Orange on National Coming Out Day. The solidarity list is a way for allies to visibly support and celebrate Syracuse University students with marginalized genders and sexualities. The LGBT Resource Center has held a coming out celebration every year since 2002, the first time programming of its kind was sponsored on campus.

Photograph of International Thanksgiving, 2010. Syracuse University Photo & Imaging Collection, University Archives. Photograph by Stephen Sartori.

In 1979 Syracuse University held its first International Thanksgiving Celebration, where international students are introduced to the tradition of the American Thanksgiving. Members of the University and greater Syracuse communities serve as table hosts as students experience a traditional Thanksgiving meal, complete with turkey, cranberry relish, and pumpkin pie.