Wellesley Traditions

Students holding their hoops, preparing for the hooprolling contest

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, and Hooprolling.


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 for Stepsinging by class four times a year dressed in their 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.

Marathon Monday

Students have cheered on Boston Marathon competitors since the first race in 1897, but the Scream Tunnel and sign making are slightly newer Marathon Monday traditions. Positioned at the midpoint of the marathon, Wellesley students motivate runners with shouts of encouragement, high fives, and personalized signs, providing a thrilling boost of energy for the miles ahead.