Is There a Tradition Behind Wearing Caps and Gowns During Graduation?

Is There a Tradition Behind Wearing Caps and Gowns During Graduation?

The first question is, is there a tradition behind wearing Penn State caps & gowns | Jostens during graduation ceremonies? Traditionally, the wearer of the cap is a graduate of a higher educational institution. But this tradition has now been observed by all levels of education. Children as young as preschool may also wear traditional attire. In addition, caps and gowns are synonymous with graduation ceremonies worldwide. Here are some of the reasons for the tradition.

Traditions of wearing caps and gowns at academic functions

Academic dress and cap and gown customs vary from one university to the next. For example, most universities don’t award caps until the student reaches his first year. 

In the Middle Ages, monks and students wore ceremonial garments like hoods to keep warm. Today, they are symbolic garments representing scholarly devotion and a deliberate process of acquiring knowledge. In Canada, however, academic dress is reserved for graduates of universities. All graduates do not wear them, but it is customary for graduates of university-level institutions to wear a cap and gown.

Traditions of wearing caps and gowns at graduation ceremonies

The tradition of wearing a cap and gown at graduation ceremonies dates back to the 12th century. The clergy founded early universities, and students and professors wore hoods to represent their status as priests. Eventually, these hoods were replaced by gowns, and many universities began dressing scholars in them. For example, in 1786, Brown University mandated that students wear gowns at commencement ceremonies. Today, however, students and professors don’t wear caps and gowns on campus.

Historically, wearing a cap and gown was considered a privilege. However, in the early 12th century, universities had no heating systems, so scholars had to keep themselves warm during ceremonies. As a result, graduation robes became the norm for academics. The colors of caps and gowns vary from school to school, but male graduates typically wear the color of the college or university, and female students wear white. Gowns are traditionally mid-ankle in length and should be fitted to fall just below the student’s knee.

System of academic dress at American colleges and universities

The system of academic dress at American colleges and universities dates back to the 14th and 15th centuries, when students needed to be warm in drafty buildings. The formal gowns and hoods served two important functions: to distinguish students from other citizens and mark their status as a person of higher learning. Although the original purposes of academic regalia were practical and distinctive, today’s academic dress codes are more ceremonial.

Historically, academic dress has changed and expanded. In the early nineteenth century, American colleges and universities sought uniformity and started the process of developing standardized academic apparel. A conference at Columbia University in 1895 led to the “Academic Costume Code.” The code has been revised several times since its initial approval, but most recently in 1986. In recent years, more American colleges and universities have reintroduced formal attire, resulting in a uniform system of academic apparel for students.

Colors of academic regalia

Academic regalia is a tradition that dates back eight centuries. Townsmen in medieval Europe wore long flowing robes with varying colors and materials. Royal decrees governed academic regalia. Over time, the colors and patterns of regalia and distinct gowns were developed for different professions, guilds, and levels of education. The academic regalia is maintained today by universities and colleges. 

The colors of academic regalia at graduation are determined by the type of degree conferred. The official degree color chart determines these. The satin field and chevron hood are the colors of the school, while the lining and size represent the type of degree conferred. However, the velvet edge hood is typically white or light blue. Regardless of the color, the hood should be at least four shades more delicate than the gown itself.

Rohit Raina
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