There are those graduation traditions that we all know such as wearing caps and gowns, “Pomp and Circumstance”, and throwing your cap in the air. But where did these traditions start?

Common Graduation Traditions

Back before universities had heating, graduates would wear long robes and hoods to keep warm during their promotional ceremonies. By the 12th century, robes and caps became representative of academic status. Today, caps and gowns are the essential attire of both high school and college graduations (source).

Mortarboards, which get their names from tools that are used to hold masonry mortars, are often tossed in the air at the end of a ceremony. This tradition began in 1912 at the Naval Academy. Before 1912, graduates had to serve as midshipmen for two years after graduation before coming naval officers. The year 1912 marked the year when students became officers right after graduation and got new hats. So, at the end of their ceremony, they tossed their hats in the air signifying that they no longer needed them. This caught on and eventually became a nation-wide tradition (source).

While graduates walk during their ceremonies, “Pomp and Circumstance” often plays in the background. In 1901, Sir Edward Elgar composed “March No. 1 in D Major”, which was part of a 30 year long military march composition. In 1905, he was invited to receive an honorary doctorate at Yale and the school played parts of his composition while students marched in. “March No. 1 in D Major” was so well-liked it caught on with many schools and it has been played in auditoriums and stadiums for graduations ever since (source).

Graduation Gift Ideas

Cylindrical raw wood wine holder engraved with "Congratulations, Kelly!"
Raw wood wine holder engraved for a graduate

Graduating from a university is a huge feat. Relatives and friends come out to attend the ceremonies and celebrations, oftentimes bearing gifts. It’s nice to give monetary gifts, but what if you want to give something more creative? Tempe Trophy has a few ideas for you.

Gold trophy with a computer on a black marble base
Custom trophy made for a graduate from her parents

What degree or title is your graduate graduating with? Customers have come in to create awards, plaques, or to engrave specific items that are specific to their major. As you can see below, we made a little computer trophy that was a gift from a computer science major’s parents. We did a commemorative plaque for a film major. We even have marble mortar and pestles that would make great gifts for pharmacy majors. Our shop has also come across a lot of stethoscopes that can be engraved for pre-med and nursing majors.

Our more universal gifts include an engraved Space Pen, which isn’t an ordinary pen. The space pen can be used to write in all kinds of conditions. Here’s a great message for the card: “For wherever life takes you.” We also always have black, silver, navy, green, and pink Zippo lighters in stock. Here’s a great message for that card: “To help you light the way.” Cheesy, but pretty good, right?

Engraved space pen in original box and brass engraved text
Engraved space pen

While we can put together gifts for you, we can also engrave items you bring in. An item versus an item customized with the recipient’s name, is much more personal. It makes it seem like you spent more time on it. Meanwhile, you just have to give it to us to work on.

For the Graduates

Whatever you do, don’t buy the diploma frames from the company that sells them on campus. We can frame your diploma for way less and include an engraved plate with whatever information you’d like to include. Our shop can even color print a copy of your diploma on aluminum in case you’d like your real diploma to be safe and sound somewhere else. Whether a graduate or a graduate’s family member or friend, Tempe Trophy is the place for all of your graduation needs.