Wellesley Traditions

Traditions have helped define the
"Wellesley experience" since the last century.

In recent decades, however, traditions have assumed an even greater significance. Wellesley is a vastly different place than it was when many of these traditions were first celebrated, encompassing a diversity of cultures, backgrounds, and viewpoints unknown to the generations of women here before us. In transcending these differences, our traditions are one of the major bonds uniting us and shaping our common identity, spirit, and pride as Wellesley women.

Some of the longest-held Wellesley traditions are Stepsinging, Flower Sunday, Hoop Rolling, and the Junior Show.


In a tradition that evolved from informal social gatherings, students began to assemble to sing on the steps of Houghton Chapel after its dedication in 1899. Today, students assemble by class four times a year dressed in their class class colors to try to out-sing and out-cheer the others. The rainbow colors are a reminder that despite differences, Wellesley students form a cohesive and dynamic community of scholars.

Flower Sunday

Flower Sunday is the oldest and longest-surviving Wellesley tradition. For many young women coming to Wellesley, the first Sunday away from home brought homesickness, and the celebration of Flower Sunday helped to ease the transition. Flower Sunday has evolved into a day of sisterhood and celebration of the new school year. Held annually in early September, it features a multicultural and multi-faith pageantry of song, music, and dance.


Hooprolling began with an activity once held on May Day, which students celebrated as a day of frivolity and of escaping from real-world worries into a day of child's play. Students would dress up in children's clothing and play games on Severance Green. One of the most popular was a race in which seniors, clad in graduation robes, rolled wooden hoops. Hooprolling has become a Wellesley institution in itself and is now held independently.

Junior Show

In 1936, a group of sophomores in Shafer Hall decided to produce a theatrical extravaganza. The next class, not to be outdone, took up the dramatic challenge, and the tradition was cemented. Planned in the sophomore spring and summer and performed in the junior year, Junior Show typically features the everywoman Wendy Wellesley pursuing an active academic and social life while juggling the daily tribulations, love troubles, and social issues of the day.


Green Girl

Why So Green?

Each class at Wellesley is assigned a color: red, yellow, purple, or green. Class colors are worn at events like Stepsinging and Reunion.



Exercise Image

Let's Get Physical!

Wellesley founder Henry Durant believed in the importance of physical exercise for women, a radical notion in the late 19th century. He outfitted the College Hall gymnasium with dumbbells, chest weights, and flying rings.





College Hall Fire Image

The Fire of 1914

On March 17, 1914, a fire broke out on the fourth floor of College Hall. It spread quickly and the building that took four years to build was destroyed in four hours. Amazingly, not a single life was lost, thanks to the fire drill system.