Wake Forest Traditions

Wake Forest University is a community of many traditions through its nearly 200-year history in Wake Forest, NC and Winston-Salem, NC. New traditions are constantly being created, including digital collections and resources about them, and therefore this list will continuously expand. If you have a tradition in mind that has been left off this list, please feel free to contact us at archives@wfu.edu with more information and sources if possible.

Arnold Palmer Day

Arnold Palmer Day was created to honor one of the most esteemed golfers who attended Wake Forest College in the late 1940s and early 1950s. He became Wake Forest’s first individual NCAA champion in 1949, then was the NCAA individual medalist again in 1950. He was the first ACC champion in 1953 and won the U.S. Amateur Championship a year later before turning professional. He won seven majors, including four Masters, and played on six Ryder Cup teams, captaining two.

Alma Mater and Fight Song

The alma mater was written by George Paschal (class of 1892) and based on a Thuringian folk song. Barbara Trautwein, AKA “Mzeztee,” arranged the Alma Mater and Fight Song to music in the 1980s.

Capture the Flag

Previously called Humans vs. Zombies, two teams of students take over Z. Smith Reynolds Library and fight to be crowned winner during this orientation game.

ChrisP Day

Chris Paul Day is a celebration of Wake Forest Traditions, both old and new. Like Arnold Palmer Day, held in the spring around the time of the Masters Tournament, Chris Paul Day celebrates an athletic role model.

Demon Deacon Mascot

Wake Forest has gone through multiple versions of its mascot, beginning as the Tigers, then the Baptists, before finally landing on the Demon Deacon.

Ed Christman orientation speech and Samuel Wait costume

Ed Christman welcomed freshmen to Wake Forest by memorizing all freshmen names for his orientation speech. Christman was also known for dressing up as Samuel Wait, Wake Forest’s founder, to educate students about the University’s history. He also voiced Wait in the Sesquicentennial sound and light show, “Visions and Dreams,” presented on Hearn Plaza in 1985. Christman retired in 2003 after serving as chaplain for more than 30 years. He was an undergraduate and studied law on the Old Campus.

Family Weekend

The Wake Forest University community invites families to visit campus and get a firsthand look at the organizations, people, and places that have become home to your student.

Forestry 101

First year students are taken through an orientation when they arrive on campus, which is supplemented by a book detailing Wake Forest traditions and culture.

The Freshman Beanie, AKA the “Chapeau of Shame”

In 1910 freshmen were commanded to wear the freshman beanie, or as some called it, the Chapeau of Shame. The hats were meant to distinguish freshmen students from others, but given that some beanies were adorned with functioning propellers, we think they may have been used to toughen up new students.

Hit the Bricks

Brian Piccolo, a 1965 graduate of Wake Forest, was a football star for both the WFU Demon Deacons as well as the Chicago Bears. In 1969, while playing for the Bears, he was diagnosed with embryonal cell carcinoma and lost his battle with the cancer in 1970. Ten years later, students began the Brian Piccolo Cancer Research Fund benefiting patients and their loved ones at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Comprehensive Cancer Center. In 2003 students held the first annual Hit the Bricks relay race, raising $3,000. In its sixteen year history, participants have run 300,213 laps and raised $404,843. Over $3 million total has been raised for the fund since 1980.


Homecoming weekend welcomes alumni back to campus with Party So Dear, class reunion parties, Festival On the Quad, tailgates for the homecoming football game, and more.

The Howler and the Howler Tree

The Howler yearbook is named after an old campus tree that sat right next to a well. It was a popular spot for student socializing while students took turns drawing from the well to pick their residential rooms. Gradually, messages, shorts stories, and bulletins began to appear tacked onto the tree. It quickly became the medium for campus news and became known as The Howler Tree. In 1903, the tree was replaced by the official publication of The Howler yearbook.


To serve as a bridge between the old and new campuses, Dr. Walter Riley and his wife Monnie Wiley had their nephew collect seeds from magnolia trees from the old campus. After growing the trees on their property in South Carolina, the trees were transplanted on the new Winston-Salem campus.

Moravian Lovefeast

The Wake Forest community packs Wait Chapel the first Sunday night in December for the largest Moravian-style lovefeast in North America. The Moravian lovefeast is based on the Agape feast and meals described in the Bible, which were symbols of unity and love. A Moravian lovefeast also focuses on the singing of hymns which describe love and harmony. This Wake Forest tradition began in 1965.

Lighting of the Quad

Each year the Wake Forest community joins together to celebrate the holiday spirit with students, faculty, and staff at Lighting of the Quad, a tradition that has continued to mark a formal celebration of the holiday season with friends and the campus community.

Literary societies: Euzelian and Philomathesian

Both the Philomathezian and Euzelian Literary societies were organized on February 14, 1835, shortly after the beginning of the second session of Wake Forest Institute. Over time the societies had rooms in College buildings, decorated with chairs that included the clubs’ Greek letters, banners, and books. Society members debated against and with each other. As of 2019, only the Euzelian Society is still in existence. Its mission is to “revive and sustain the intellectual culture of Wake Forest University by fostering a creative academic outlet for students.”

Old Campus Trek

Students and alumni travel to the original campus in Wake Forest, NC to learn about Wake Forest’s history. The day is hosted by the Wake Forest Historical Museum, the Alumni Office, the Half-Century Club, the Wake Forest College Birthplace Society and the WFU Traditions Council.


Pitsgiving is an annual feast held before Thanksgiving break in the Pit, allowing Wake Forest students to experience Thanksgiving with their friends before returning home to their families.

P.O. Boxes

Before cell phones, Wake Forest students kept in touch with family and friends through their very own post office box in Poteat. Students waited to find letters or care packages from home. P.O. Box numbers can be found in student directories in Special Collections & Archives.

  • Henson, Maria, Cherin Poovey, Kerry King, Madeline Stone. “Object Curiosities – 1,” Wake Forest Magazine. January 28, 2016.
  • King, Kerry. “Box of memories,” Wake Forest Magazine. June 12, 2015.

President’s Ball

The President’s Ball is an event for all members of the Wake Forest community to celebrate the university’s success with live music, dancing, and food.

Project Pumpkin

Project Pumpkin is an annual campus-wide event founded in 1989. Each year more than 800 children from local agencies are escorted to the Reynolda campus where students, faculty and staff combine to provide a safe environment for trick-or-treating, carnival games, clowns, and entertainment.

Remember With Us: Commemorating the Enslaved

Remember With Us is an annual event to honor and remember the enslaved individuals who were sold or worked for the benefit of the institution that would become Wake Forest University. The event is sponsored by the Slavery, Race, and Memory Project and the project guides the research, preservation, and communication of an accurate depiction of the University’s relationship to slavery and its implications across Wake Forest’s history. Learn more on the Slavery, Race, and Memory Project website.

Roll The Quad

Rolling the Quad is a tradition done in front of Wait Chapel after major athletic victories. Students and Wake Forest community rush to the quad to ‘roll’ the campus trees with toilet paper.

Senior Orations

The annual tradition of the Senior Colloquium dates back to the re-opening of Wake Forest College in 1868, following the Civil War. Every year, outstanding seniors write essays in a competition, and some are invited to present them as speeches at University gatherings.

Shag on the Mag

An annual Springfest tradition, Shag on the Mag features a live band, food, and dancing on the Mag Quad


Sponsored by the Student Union, Springfest is a week of events including the Student Government Carnival, concerts, and Shag on the Mag.

SS Wake Forest Victory

During World War II, Wake Forest had a cargo vessel named the SS Wake Forest Victory. Victory class ships were mass-produced and transported goods and ammunition to troops overseas. The Wake Forest community supported the ship by sending books and even pictures of Wake Forest women who were crowned Miss Wake Forest Victory.

Stop Hunger Now

During Homelessness Awareness Week, Stop Hunger Now is an event in which 15,000 meals are packaged to be delivered to hungry people around the world.

The University Mace

When James Ralph Scales was inaugurated as Wake Forest’s 11th president in 1968, John E. Davis, professor of biology, led the faculty procession into Wait Chapel carrying the mace for the first time. Thomas H. Davis Sr. (LL.D. ’84) donated it in honor of his father, Egbert L. Davis Sr. (LL.B. 1904, P ’33). The mace is made of spun silver covered with gold plating and topped by a double-cast seal of the University — is “decorated with scenes and symbols of the University.

Wake the Library

Wake the Library is an exam week tradition of 24/7 study, free food, and other surprises.

Wake ‘N Shake

Wake ‘N Shake is a 12-hour dance marathon that fundraises money for the Brian Piccolo Cancer Fund.

Wake Forest University Seal

The Wake Forest University seal, designed in 1908 by William Louis Poteat and his predecessor, Charles E. Taylor, represents the rich heritage and history of our University. Inscribed with the words Pro Humanitate, it is a classic icon symbolizing our University’s vision to serve mankind through the pursuit of knowledge

Women’s Handbooks

When women were allowed to live on campus, expectations on them were high. Many handbooks were created to attempt to regulate women students by encouraging certain behaviors and habits. Many of them were based on physical appearance, manners, and relationships with men. Thankfully, some traditions were meant to be broken.

Wake Forest Student magazine

Beginning in 1882, the Euzelian Society at Wake Forest University published a literary magazine, The Wake Forest Student, addressing timely topics on campus and beyond. The digitized catalog cards in this collection can be used to locate and discover works by author or title, as well as the issue the works were published. The title of The Student changed to “Three to four ounces” with the Fall 1995 issue.