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Traditions are a link with the history of Hollins, a bond shared past and present. Some have changed to fit changing times, but the special meanings remain the same.

During her senior year in 1971, Hollins alumna Mary Beth Hatten wrote, "In the midst of change, meaningful Hollins traditions remain to give the college community a sense of its past and a common experience to enjoy together…. Fun has always been a part of learning."

Founded in 1842, Hollins has been celebrating some Hollins traditions for more than a century.


Learn more about Hollins traditions: Hollins on YouTube


Fall Traditions

Convocation welcomes new students and recognizes the start of the new academic year. Seniors take their traditional walk across Front Quadrangle to signify the official start of their senior year. Opening Convocation 2013 remarks by Gabrielle Awuma '14, SGA President. Video »

Tinker Day
Tinker Day, observed since the 1880s, occurs in October. It became an official holiday in 1895. The surprise element, which was introduced in 1899, adds to the excitement of the day. After the president's official declaration, classes are canceled and students, faculty, and staff hike Tinker Mountain attired in zany costumes for songs and a traditional picnic of fried chicken and Tinker Cake.

Miss Matty's Birthday
Miss Matty's birthday is also celebrated in October. On this day, the Hollins community honors Matty Cocke, daughter of Hollins' founder, president of Hollins from 1901 to 1933, and the first woman to head a college in Virginia. She was the daughter of Hollins' founder, Charles Lewis Cocke.

Faculty Christmas Caroling
Faculty Christmas caroling takes place one night in December, when members of the faculty and administration surprise students by singing favorite holiday songs in front of the residence halls.

Holiday Tea
Holiday Tea is held during December in the Green Drawing Room. The festive gathering is time for good cheer and delicious treats. Video »

White Gift Service
White Gift Service, one of the oldest and most moving traditions at Hollins, is marked by the Concert Choir and Talmadge Singers heralding in the holiday season with traditional songs and by members of the community reading scripture passages. It takes its name from the white dresses Hollins students used to wear during the service and from the special offering given by the community to local, national, and global service organizations.


Spring Traditions

Viking Day - a new tradition? Stephanie Graham '10 talks about the history of Viking Day, which typically falls on Valentine's Day weekend.

Founder's Day
Founder's Day, observed in February, celebrates the birth and life of Hollins' founder, Charles Lewis Cocke. Members of the senior class (dressed in their robes) and one member of the campus community chosen by the seniors walk to the Cocke family cemetery, where they place a wreath on Mr. Cocke's grave. The community participates in the celebration through the Founder's Day Convocation, a ceremony that features a distinguished speaker.

Hundredth Night
Hundredth Night marks 100 days before graduation. On that day, seniors gather at a party given by the senior class, reflect on their four years at Hollins through a slide show and enjoy food and beverages.

Literary Festival
The Literary Festival, launched in 1960 by Grapheon and the English department, is held annually and features several distinguished writers.

Cotillion began as a women-only dance in the 1890s. Today it is one of the biggest coed events sponsored by Hollins.

Honors Convocation
Honors Convocation brings the entire community together at the end of the year to honor and recognize those who have received awards, attained membership in honor societies, and earned the designation of honor student for the fall term. Following the event, participants and award winners gather in the Green Drawing Room to enjoy a reception thrown in their honor.

Passing of the Robes
Passing of the Robes, begun in 1996, is a new tradition. Seniors who care to may pass their decorated robes down to juniors.

Senior Class Banquet
Senior Class Banquet has evolved into a sister class banquet, with sophomores honoring seniors.

Commencement has been taking place outdoors since 1957 (weather permitting), followed by a reception on the lawn.


Year-round Traditions

Only members know what the letters stand for. ADA was founded in 1907. It oversees two important Hollins traditions: zaniness and the wearing of purple on Tuesdays.

Freya Walks
Freya Walks take place on nights of special events or issues. Members of this secret society walk at night to call attention to or celebrate current events. They wear black-hooded robes to protect their anonymity and carry candles to symbolize hope. Since 1903 Freya has sought to emphasize the notion that "concern for the community is a creative and active force."

Golden Rule Dinner
A Golden Rule Dinner is promoted by the Spiritual and Religious Life Association. One day during the academic year the dining hall serves a simple meal of soup and toast. The food saved is donated to various service organizations that aid the less fortunate.

Hollins Abroad
Hollins Abroad started in 1955 with Hollins-Abroad Paris. Today more than half of Hollins students study abroad in 10 different programs.

Hollins Medals
Hollins Medals were first presented in 1967 to commemorate Hollins' 125th year. Since then, medals have been awarded to alumnae, faculty, staff, or Hollins friends who have "rendered notable services to American society at large or to Hollins in particular."

Ring Night
Ring Night is an ever-evolving tradition in which seniors secretly adopt junior ring sisters. The juniors participate in skits and other silly antics in hopes of earning their rings and discovering who their "sisters" are. Video from Ring Night 2011 »

The Rock
The Rock is located on the lawn outside the Dana Science Building and has been called the Hollins billboard. It was first painted by the Class of 1982. Seniors spray paint colorful messages to congratulate, to celebrate, and to speak out on issues. Read about the history of The Rock.

Pancake Study Breaks
Pancake study breaks give students an opportunity to take a break from studying for exams and enjoy pancakes hot off the griddle with their friends. Held on the first night of exams, faculty and staff "helpers" flip and serve these late-night treats.