As graduation grows closer and closer, seniors are purchasing their white gowns and suits and getting ready to say their final goodbyes to Ridgewood High School. On the afternoon of June 20th, the class of 2018 will saunter onto the stadium field, line up perfectly by height, and receive their long-awaited high school diplomas. Ridgewood’s graduation is a unique, decades-old tradition that is a rite of passage for all those who grow up here. Girls dress in white dresses and the boys in white suits as they say goodbye to their school of the last four years. It is a final bonding moment with classmates where everyone can feel proud of their school and accomplishments. Ridgewood may not be unique as some might think and this is a common theme in all graduations across the globe. However, some traditions differ greatly from Ridgewood’s in their grandeur and rituals.
Sweden’s convocation has elements that resemble RHS’s. The graduates wear matching sailor hats, referred to as studentmössas, and begin by singing songs together. Then, the parents arrive with large childhood photos on a sign, similar to RHS Project Graduation’s display of young student photos, and tie a ribbon with a gift attached to it around their graduate’s neck. Towards the closing of the ceremony, a parade is held in celebration with floats, confetti, and dancing.
On the other side of the world, Japanese high school graduates don’t don graduation caps. Instead, they wear their school uniforms and perform singing and marching routines. Their school year begins earlier than ours, so their graduation can take place as early as March.
In another part of the world, Argentina has one of the most bizarre graduation rituals. In an effort to make the person’s status as a graduate more obvious, family, friends, and strangers pelt them with all different types of food: ranging from ketchup and syrup to flour and tomatoes. This “trashing” tradition, while seemingly gross, is quite fun for both the graduate and his or her family.
In Russia, students celebrate graduation before they actually finish their school career, and have to pass a state exam to be considered graduates. Russian girls typically wear black dresses with white aprons, a long-lasting tradition in their society. Nearby in Germany, a graduation ceremony is not something to look forward to, as they do not have one. It is unusual to have celebrations at any level of schooling, and to be eligible to move on to university, high school students must pass a final exam called abitur. Similarly, the United Kingdom does not typically celebrate the graduation of high school level students. In China, convocation is not an event that the students’ family attends. Instead, it is seen as a time for schoolmates to spend time together and celebrate their accomplishments. Interestingly, in past years, female graduates have begun to swap the typical cap and gown for rented wedding dresses! Overall, China has few graduation traditions, so students are free to celebrate however they want.
The last and possibly most interesting graduation tradition is that of Norway. High school students use the last month of their school year to basically spend their time partying with their friends: russefeiring as they call it. Students wear overalls and colorful clothing and ride buses with pals. They also compete for awards like “bus of the year”!
From China to Argentina, high school graduation is often seen as a huge accomplishment and something that deserves commemoration. It is certainly not something to be taken for granted, so seniors, as you take those last steps on the stage at your graduation with your white attire and red roses, cherish every single one.
Graphics: Sofia Lee