First May Day Celebration

The earliest recorded May Day celebration at Wheaton occurred during the Seminary years in 1889. Based on the medieval celebration of the coming of spring, students danced around a maypole and participated in various other activities. Traditionally, the senior class chose the May Queen and her court from their “sister” sophomore class.

By the 1920s, in addition to crowning a May Queen, students and staff performed elaborate plays based on the English May Day, the history of women’s education or Greek tragedies. The celebration proved to be one of Wheaton’s most popular, both with students and the greater Norton community.

In 1921, President Cole reported that the event attracted some 800 guests to Wheaton. The May Day celebration took place annually in the Dimple until the 1960s, when, like so many others, the tradition faded away.