Ivy Day History

The first Ivy Day at the University of Nebraska grew out of the annual Senior Class Day, which started in 1889 and included ceremonies at the University chapel. The original purpose of the Ivy Day celebration was to celebrate spring and recognize the scholastic achievements of University scholars. In 1901, the senior class decided to beautify the campus by planting ivy on the old grounds around University Hall. The seniors marched in a double line to the south side of the old University Hall where they sang an appropriate song (“Nebraska”) and stood solemnly by while the president of the senior class planted the ivy, which was the main event of the day. After the senior president planted the ivy, he presented the trowel to the junior president as a symbol of passing on the responsibilities to the upcoming senior class. The first Ivy Day orator, later a Master of Ceremonies, appeared in 1901. Two years later, the Ivy Day oration, dancing and reading of the class poem, and the announcement of the class gift were added to the ceremonies.

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Innocents Society and Ivy Day

Historically, the Innocents Society tackled 13 junior males at the annual Ivy Day ceremonies.  The current class of Innocents walked amongst the crowd gather for the festivities tackling unsuspecting juniors one by one.  The "tackling" signaled their acceptance into the Society.

The Innocents Society and Mortar Board still convene every spring for Ivy Day.  Today's Ivy Day is a celebration of the new classes and a farewell to the outgoing classes.  The societies' new members walk a procession of ivy around campus culminating in the societies' presidents jointly planting the ivy at Love Library.

Planting of the Ivy 2012