The Honorable Bishop
Dr. Carl Robinson Ph.D., DSc.,DDipl,. DHL,T hD.,
The History Behind The Tradition Of Academic Regalia
When it comes time to graduate, many people know what to expect due to the traditional nature of the convocation ceremony. However, it’s common not to really think about why those traditions exist or why graduates always wear academic regalia as they cross the stage to accept their diploma or degree. In most cases, wearing academic regalia is a one-time thing, although for some students and faculty academic dress becomes an occasional outfit worn as they continue on their academic career path.
The cap and gown have come to symbolize recognition and achievement, and as such, it is tradition to wear this type of academic regalia across the globe.
Exploring The Traditional Use Of Academic Dress
Graduation is a prime example of a rite of passage that a person may experience in their lifetime. It is quite common to have pomp and circumstance surround these type of big life events as a way to add to the celebration and the distinctive nature. Similar to a bridal gown, wearing academic regalia in Canada represents an important cultural tradition that usually includes three ritualistic steps.
Having graduates walk into the ceremony in their academic regalia is done to separate the graduates from those simply attending the event.
Walking across the stage in their academic dress signifies their achievement.
Mingling post convocation ceremony in academic regalia demonstrates to society their new status.
While the information above explains the ideology behind the current traditional use of academic gowns, the question remains, why did graduates wear a cap and gown in the first place? Academic regalia came to fruition when universities started forming in the 12th and 13th centuries. Historians actually believe that scholars originally wore long robes and hoods to keep warm in unheated buildings. until the 1950’s, graduation caps and gowns were typically gray in North America. After that time, students became more interested in using different colors to represent their school, which was common practice in Europe. Overall, although the shades and colors may have changed, the general look of academic regalia has remained timeless in the past few centuries.