For more than a century, students have established, enjoyed, and reshaped Mary Baldwin’s beloved traditions. Events held throughout the years have been silly, staid, touching, and timeless and though most are offered on Mary Baldwin’s main campus to students in the Mary Baldwin College for Women, non-traditional students also enjoy taking part in Mary Baldwin’s traditions such as Capstone and Charter Day.
Six decades after Mary Baldwin first celebrated Apple Day, the event is as popular as ever. Although historically the actual date was a surprise, today’s celebrations are announced in advance, but that does not diminish the excitement. Perks include cancelled classes, a carnival, apple gleaning, paint the town, and a plethora of apple dishes served at the Dining Hall.
True to its roots, Apple Day continues to be used as a platform for promoting community service through local organizations and encourages involvement in campus clubs. It is a testament to the purpose for which the tradition was originally created. There will always be people who need the volunteer help of Mary Baldwin University students, faculty, and staff.
The Capstone Festival gives a select group of seniors an opportunity to present their scholarly and artistic works to the wider campus community and the public. The high quality and breadth of research, scholarship, and creative activities on display is a testament to the legacy of those earlier years and a celebration of our future.
Each year on this day, new students sign the Honor Pledge and upper class students and faculty members reaffirm their support for the honor system. In addition, as a renewal of the university’s commitment to self-governance, the Student Government Association charter is presented to the SGA president by a member of the Board of Trustees through the university president.
Christmas Cheer is held in December at First Presbyterian Church and is open to Mary Baldwin University and the Staunton community. During the celebration, student choral groups sing carols and festive songs and members of the college community read scripture. Afterward, students follow a luminary lit pathway to the dining hall for a holiday meal.
The first time an Mary Baldwin class picked their colors was in 1912. They chose green and white. For the next three years, each new class chose their own unique class colors: purple and gold, lavender and white, and scarlet and gold. For more than a century, each entering class of Mary Baldwin women has been presented with their class colors from an alumna whose class shares those colors.
This year, the class colors are:
2018 – Scarlet and Gold
2019 – Green and White
2020 – Purple and Gold
2021 – Lavender and White
Commencement Weekend is a weekend dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments of Mary Baldwin’s graduating class. VWIL graduating seniors are honored during the Commissioning Ceremony and take part in the Change of Command Review. PEG and Baldwin Online and Adult Programs graduates are recognized at events, new members are inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, and African-American and Latina students are invited to participate in an Ajani (literally, “she who wins all struggles”) Ceremony. The weekend concludes with Commencement Ball and Graduation. Visit the event specific site.
Da & Da
At the end of each academic year, the front of the Deming Fine Arts Center undergoes an artistic transformation when Da and Da get a fresh coat of paint. In form, Da and Da are images of the dignified dog statues, Ham and Jam, who guard the front of Administration — the oldest building on campus. Before graduation, senior art students paint Da and Da with bright colors and abstract designs.
On the first weekend in October the Mary Baldwin campus fills with the families of Mary Baldwin students who come to visit and participate in a variety of activities with their daughters. Families have the opportunity to enjoy a theatre performance, shop downtown, watch a VWIL parade, and a highlight of the weekend, a huge “backyard” barbecue — Mary Baldwin style. Visit the event specific site.
Since 1898, Founders Day has been held each year on the Thursday closest to the October 4 birthday of Mary Julia Baldwin. The hallmark of Founders Day is a ceremony held in honor of the college’s two founders, Rufus W. Bailey and Mary Baldwin. For the senior class, Founders Day marks the day they wear their caps and gowns for the first time.
Junior Dads & Family Weekend
In November, one of Mary Baldwin’s most treasured traditions takes place. Juniors and their families celebrate with a ring presentation and formal dance. Though historically a Daddy/Daughter presentation, today, moms, sisters, brothers, boyfriends, friends, and even professors join the celebration to honor their student by presenting her with her class ring. Baldwin Program Board also hosts their annual Spa Day during the Saturday of this weekend. Visit the event specific site.
Kwanzaa at Mary Baldwin is celebrated in January because students are on winter break during the traditional dates. First-year students, with guidance from older students, are largely responsible for organizing the celebration which includes dancing, skits, and other art forms while students explain the principles of Kwanzaa. This is also the time when new members of the Ida B. Wells Society — an Mary Baldwin honor society that explores and celebrates African American heritage — are inducted.
Las Posadas is a reenactment of Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter and a place for the birth of the baby Jesus, an event celebrated in Latin American communities around the world. Las Posadas, Mary Baldwin-style, is a pilgrimage that winds its way through the residence halls with lead characters Mary and Joseph knocking on doors and asking for a night’s lodging. Each stop along the way reflects a different holiday tradition, including Chanukah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas as celebrated in the Caribbean, Ireland, and Africa. The procession concludes with a fiesta at the Student Activities Center.
Martin Luther King, Jr. March for Peace and Justice
Since 1992, Mary Baldwin University students and community members have been honoring the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. with a candlelit march in downtown Staunton. The event, held on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, begins with a candlelight march through the city and culminates with a memorial service. Attendees are encouraged to bring canned goods in support of the local area food bank.
May Term ToTTs
Thursdays on Tyson Terrace (aka ToTTs) have become a favorite tradition among students and staff as bands liven up each Thursday evening during May Term, and food and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are served.
Orientation weekend culminates with Opening Convocation, hosted by student leaders. During the ceremony, the freshman class is presented with their class colors by an alumna whose class shared those colors. At the end of the lively event, hundreds of new students, faculty, and administrators form a winding circle that extends between Grafton Library and Hunt Dining Hall on front campus. With lighted candles, the students pass a flame around the expansive circle and sing the Hymn to Mary Baldwin.
Installation of new Student Government Association officers occurs every spring. The annual ceremony not only signals the passing of the torch of leadership from one generation of Mary Baldwin students to the next, it marks a continuing commitment to uphold student governance and the honor code.
Signature Ball Weekend
Hosted by the student-run Baldwin Program Board, Signature Ball Weekend takes place during the last weekend in January. The celebration kicks off Friday night with large-group entertainment and the highlight of the weekend is the Signature Ball, a formal dance held on Saturday evening.
Every spring, seniors are honored with a festive, themed party and dinner in their honor. Past themes have includedMay Day and Alice in Wonderland. Spring Fling takes place on the front lawn of the Alumnae House, and is sponsored by the Alumnae/i Office and the Student Alumnae/i Relations Society.