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Student Traditions
Hey Day: 1916 Origins


Newsclipping of the first Hey Day Program of Events, printed in 1916 Pennsylvanian newspaperIn 1916, the University decided to inaugurate a new day in its history, temporarily called "Moving-Up Day" for the lack of a better title. On this day, the Juniors were to be made Seniors, the Sophomores Juniors and the Freshmen allowed to assume the dignity of Sophomores. The idea of celebrating a "moving-up" day at Penn was instigated by a similar custom that had been successfully established at Syracuse University a few years earlier. However, to make the event "strikingly characteristic of Pennsylvania", a sub-committee was appointed to come up with a proper name for the celebration. In May of 1916, the name "Hey Day", a day of rejoicing, was definitely selected as a proper title for the event.

More than anything else, Hey Day served as a means of consolidating a number of traditional events that had been scattered throughout the second term. As in later years, the main feature of the 1916 Hey Day was a giant convocation of all undergraduates, which the seniors attended dressed in their caps and gowns. After these exercises were held, Provost Smith gave a short talk, the retiring president of the Senior Class introduced the new leader, and the results of various society and cheerleader elections were read.

Although the Hey Day ceremony was an important part of the celebration, it only marked the beginning of the day's events. The evening of the 1916 Hey Day included a variety of activities meant to appeal to the student body, largely consisting of various competitions between the classes. Among the athletic events of the day were the Senior-Junior Track Meet, the Penn-Swarthmore Baseball Game and the Senior-Junior Championship Soccer Match, all held at Franklin Field. At 7 o'clock, the seniors commenced their annual senior sing by the Senior Fence, located at the back of College Hall. Meeting in a large parade, the undergraduates then conducted the seniors to Franklin Field, where the events of the evening commenced. These included sports such as wrestling and boxing, an annual tug-of-war event between the freshman and sophomore classes, and the Sophomore Cremation. As a fitting conclusion of the day, a great bonfire was raised over the glowing coals of the faculty members' smoldering remains, into which the jubilant freshmen threw their hated black caps, celebrating their newly attained sophomore status.


This exhibit was created in January 2005 by Irina Kalashnikova, B.A. and M.A. 2006