2017 Graduation caps

Ferris State's graduating class shows off their creative cap designs

Cap and Gown

The tradition of wearing a cap and gown at graduation has many theorized origins that all begin around the 12th century. According to Central New York (CNY) news, among other sources, there wasn’t sufficient heating systems in universities, so scholars wore gowns to keep warm during the ceremonies.

The cap became popular a few centuries later and it was used to signify intelligence and superiority and, in those times, they were usually red to signify the blood and life, CNY news explains.

Tossing of the Cap

The rejoiceful action of throwing the graduation cap into the air is adapted from the Naval Academy in 1912. Graduates of the Naval Academy were required to serve two years before they could be commissioned as Navy officers and, therefore, they upgraded hats at graduation, according to CNY news.

The symbolic act of the end of a chapter in a graduate’s life quickly spread to other institutions, including colleges and universities, CNY states.

Turning of the Tassel

One of the newest traditions, moving from the right to the left started roughly 50 years ago, according to CNY news. The tassel started as a decoration and slowly shifted to a gesture that symbolized the change from student to graduate, CNY reported.


Information compiled by: Harley Harrison | News Editor

Photos by: Sarah Massey | Production Assistant