There’s a Meaning to Old Traditions

Judson would be a much duller place without her traditions. Some are large, public traditions, like Rose Sunday and Hockey Day. Others are smaller and quieter, and these come and go with time. For instance, according to one alum, during the singing of “There’ll Always Be a Judson,” her class used to stomp when they reached the phrase “there’s all a million marching feet.” Printed here are just a few of the traditions that make Judson so special to us today, and the origin stories behind them.

Left: The 1959 pageant bride and groom as pictured in the 1960 Conversationalist. Right: In this year’s pageant, Larry (Brianna Arriaga) and Bianca (Kassidy Giles) were the closest thing to a pageant bride and groom!
Left: The 1959 pageant bride and groom as pictured in the 1960 Conversationalist. Right: In this year’s pageant, Larry (Brianna Arriaga) and Bianca (Kassidy Giles) were the closest thing to a pageant bride and groom!

Pageant as we know it today is a Judson-ized version of a stage play put on by the Jr-Sophs as a gift to their big-sister class. In the past, pageant served the same function as ivy weaving for Rose Sunday—symbolizing the union between the freshmen and Jr-Sophs. And it wasn’t a play—it was a wedding.

Judson women put on many plays over the course of the year—notably the freshmen used to put on a performance on Halloween night, and a “May Day pageant” was listed on a 1941 social calendar and celebrated for many more years. The big performance of the year, however, given mid-fall semester was the Junior-Freshman Wedding.

According to the 1941 edition of The Conversationalist, “One of the most beautiful traditions of Judson College is that of the uniting of the sister classes. At the beginning of each year Miss Freshman is wed to Mr. Junior. Both the
best-man and the maid-of-honor are from the freshman class. The president of the junior class serves as matron-of-honor, and the bridesmaids and groomsmen are taken from both classes. The sponsors of the two classes sit in places reserved for ‘the family,’ and the bride is given in marriage by the president of the college.” The vows, as reproduced in the 1959 yearbook, included the words, “And God created the evergreen—a symbol of love—to bind the years and seasons together, so that each is a part, but all are the whole.”

Based on perusal of old yearbooks, it appears that the last solitary wedding was held in 1959, though elements of drama appear to have been incorporated into a Beauty and the Beast narrative alongside the wedding ceremony. The next year still had a wedding preceding the “real thing,” according to that year’s
Conversationalist, which seems to have been some type of royal ceremony around the theme of “Building a Noble Life.” The first pageant as we know it appears to have been held in 1961, when “The magical powers of Aladdin’s lamp revealed the desired qualities of Love, Loyalty, and Life.” The concept of vows, or a pledge between the classes (still a junior-frosh bond) remained, primarily symbolized by the passing on of the ring on a chain. The passing on of the ring is now a part of the virtue ceremony, which is the remaining junior-frosh component of the pageant performance.

“Posy” goblets—At the big-little banquet next semester, dozens of big sisters will give their new littles “posies”—whimsically decorated wine glasses to hold “Judson wine” (sparkling grape juice).

The posies are not nearly so old a tradition as one might imagine. Their predecessor is the rosy goblet. The unadorned pink or red glass is a tradition of uncertain origin that is accompanied by the senior song of the same name, and one that alumnae are attempting to resurrect on campus.

According to Lenora Moore Kendrick ’92, the posies were “not meant to be a tradition.” Getting your rosy goblet used to be a big deal—you got it your Jr-Soph year at Rose Sunday, and you could use it right away. In fact, you might even see Jr-Sophs enjoying them sitting on top of the gazebo during Jr-Soph weekend.

Kendrick and her roommate had ordered rosies for their littles, but when Rose Sunday arrived, the glasses had not. Not wishing to disappoint their littles, they purchased some cordial glasses and wrapped them up. They had a seal party after the Rose Sunday serenade, and their littles were excited, asking “Am I going to get my rosy goblet tonight?” Instead, Kendrick and her roommate presented their littles with the clear glasses, playfully saying that they hadn’t “earned” their rosy goblet yet, so they were receiving this trial “posy.” They got their rosies later in the semester, but word about the posies spread and now they are a tradition more prevalent than the original.

Potato—Sometimes a tradition arises from the inability to say something. Like “happy nocturnal visions” and “happy sleep stories” as underclassmen substitutes for “good night, sweet dreams,” the term “potato” has taken hold in recent years to describe the freshmen who may become little sisters to the Jr-Sophs. Since Judson has transitioned to make sure the freshmen are the ones who make the final decision about who will be their big sisters, efforts have been made in recent years to prevent Jr-Sophs from verbally claiming littles before they should. Until 2014, the correct term to use for someone who was sitting on your blanket and would likely sign with you was “potential little sister,” or “potential” for short. Fifth-year senior Fariss (now a distance learning student) recalls that her freshman year the term “potential” was problematic, and so, she “said ‘if we can’t be potentials, then we shall be potatoes.’” This didn’t catch on universally, especially at first—for example, the Indian Runner Ducks used the terms “blanket peasant” and “blanket overlord” for a time. However, potato has survived for a few generations now, and may continue in future years.


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