Graduation Day is the most important day in the life of a student. It is the day on which the student receives a degree and finally becomes a graduate. From hereon, either a student can either opt for higher education or enter professional life. It is a momentous occasion which a student eagerly looks forward to and wants to share with family members and friends.
Graduation Day is not a modern concept but is being observed for the past many centuries. In Europe, ceremonies for students were held as far back as the 12th century. That was the time when the medium of education was Latin and the first universitas were established in Europe. During that time universitas was a guild of masters (MA). They had the license to teach. There were two steps in the process. The first involved admission to a bachelor's degree and the second comprised the masters step. Herein the graduate was admitted into the universitas and now could teach.
The gowns and hats that are worn today by students at the graduation ceremony, have been derived from the everyday dress of University staff at the time of the Middle Ages. This dress was basically derived from the one worn by the clergy class during the Medieval Ages. In the European nation of Sweden, students have been wearing a hat since the 18th century. Thereafter, the hat gained popularity all over the world and today is an integral part of the student's Graduation Day dress code. It is also essential that the length of the gown worn by students on Graduation Day should be between the knee and the ankle. There is also a tradition of tossing the hat in the air. This is basically a sign of rejoicing. However, this is a modern phenomenon and dates back to the early 20th century. The first time students indulged in tossing their caps in the air was in 1912 at the US Naval Academy located in Annapolis. The hat or cap is also known as a mortarboard. This is because the cap's shape is similar to a flat board, a medium used by bricklayers to hold mortar. The cap comprises a tassel, which is fastened to its center.
Though Graduation Day is a big event in the lives of the students but the traditions or style of celebrating the day may differ from country to country. In some countries around the world, Graduation normally takes place at the university level. However, the situation is a little different in the US. Here graduations normally occur at the level of high schools. In Japan, the ceremony usually is of one hour. It is held during the week and sees singing and marching. In Sweden, most of the universities deal in research. Hence on Graduation Day, Universities may present their students with bachelor's, master's and doctor's degree. In Zimbabwe, ceremonial head is the guest of honor. Here, the President of the country officiates as the chancellor and guest of honor at the state university level.
In the United Kingdom, Graduation ceremony is held at the university level. In Spain, the graduation academic dress comprises elbow length cape, a circular cap, as well as embellished cuffs. In Argentina, Graduation Day is celebrated by covering the students in syrup and ketchup. In Germany, before a student is considered a high school graduate, he or she has to take a final exam, while in Norway the graduation festivities may last for about a month.
Graduation marks the transition phase of a student, hence it is a very important day for him or her. The ceremony involves, the student marching onto the stage, receiving his or her degree, making a speech and finally being declared a graduate. The parents, relatives or other important people in his or her life attend the event and share in the graduate's joy. The Valedictory speech is a major highlight of the day. It is the moment when the top graduate makes an oral address. At the end of the ceremony, students toss their hats in the air. Finally graduation parties are held.