Why Do We Wear Square Hats on Graduation Day?

Why Do We Wear Square Hats on Graduation Day?

Melissa W.

It’s finally your shining moment: Graduation day! All of your years of hard work have led to this. You’ve dreamt about it for years -- the moment they call out your name and you walk across the stage to receive your diploma amid a crowd of cheers. You’ve picked an outfit for photos and start to get ready for commencement -- you look great! But, one thing stands out -- the square hat with a tassel hanging from it, and you wonder, “who came up with THIS idea?!”

The mortarboard, better known as the “graduation cap” or “Oxford cap” has been a part of traditional academic attire since the 1800s, though some believe it dates back as early as the 1300s in Europe when university professors, often members of the clergy, would wear long gowns and caps to stay warm while teaching in unheated buildings. Students soon adopted the look, as similar-looking caps were also widely worn by artists and youth in general. The mortarboard name comes from the shape and how it resembles the square board used by stonemasons to carry mortar.

Academically, caps were typically worn to signify achievement in high levels of education (master’s and doctorate degrees), but have since trickled down to other levels like bachelor’s degrees, high school diplomas, and virtually any student celebrating a commencement. You may even see children as young as preschool age wearing traditional attire, including the cap! The look basically stuck and now the mortarboard and gown are synonymous with commencement ceremonies worldwide. 

Caps are traditionally black with a cardboard insert to keep its shape, though they’re offered in many different colors to match school colors, typically at the high school level. Some schools opt for a soft cap, as the tradition of tossing caps in the air at the end of commencement has been known to strike a graduate or two (more on that another time)!

As a reminder, our team continues to operate with a modified business solution, complete with remote and isolated order processing locations. Our goal is to safely deliver honor and recognition gear to schools and institutions to have ready for their students once graduation dates have been reworked. We understand the importance of graduation regalia and what it means to students and faculty and want graduates to mark their accomplishments in a way in which they deserve. No matter what your commencement ceremony looks like this year, our honor and recognition gear means the same and looks just as great!

We love seeing all of the commencement photos rolling in from around the country! If you’d like to share any images with our team for a chance to be featured, email us at marketing@seniorclassproducts.com


Photo by MD Duran on Unsplash

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