12 Of The Craziest College Traditions: Naked Bike Rides, Midnight Makeouts, and Tortilla Tosses

Every school has its traditions. Some are simple, like doing a certain cheer at a football game to ensure a touchdown. Some are completely insane, like running naked through the quad on the last day of classes. Traditions are a way to feel rooted in history while feeling like part of a whole, and while that sounds great in theory, some school traditions are downright ridiculous. But since it's college and with college comes a certain unabashed YOLO mentality, we continue to participate in these rituals simply because they've existed for decades — and because they can be really freaking fun.

We've compiled a list of the most bizarre college traditions across the country — and even across the pond. Does your school make the list?

Image: Reed College/Facebook

Seventh Annual Nitrogen Day / Reed College

The students of Reed College host a yearly Nitrogen Day, deemed the seventh annual of it’s kind every year to honor Nitrogen’s spot as the seventh element on the periodic table. Theories of why the tradition is so beloved on campus are vast, but one alumni believes it’s because ”people feel they must root for the underdog.” Celebration activities include free food, a band, a nitrogen-infused beer garden, and, of course, the reciting of haikus musing the horrors of a world without nitrogen.

Image: Reed College/Facebook

Naked Bike Ride / University of Vermont

Many schools have traditions that involve naked people, quads, and running because, well, college. But UVM kicks it up a notch by getting bikes involved. The once school-sponsored event takes place on the last night of classes before finals each semester as a way to let off steam. Students (including my brother, which is why I will NOT look for pictures of this event for fear of what I’ll find) claim that thousands attend the event, and that it’s more weird to be an onlooker than a participant.

Image: University of Vermont/Facebook

Big Sub / Barnard College

Every October the Barnard student activities committee hosts The Big Sub. The committee builds a giant submarine sandwich (which grows a foot every year to represent the graduating class) that snakes it’s way through the campus until it’s later devoured by students and faculty. On the day of the event, students are given a map to navigate where exactly they need to stand to have access to their favorite fillings. Is it just me, or does the thought of thousands of women counting down to 7:00 p.m. and then devouring a 700-foot sub in LESS THAN FIVE MINUTES seem like something out of a weird version of Survivor?


Fish Toss / University of New Hampshire

Colleges have some crazy mascots, but they have even crazier sports traditions. UNH students throw a fish out onto the hockey rink after their team scores the first goal to symbolize the opposing goalie “fishing” the puck out of the net. The tradition began in the ’70s and is so important to UNH that coaches will risk a penalty just to keep the tradition alive.

Image: Getty Images

Elsa/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Primal Scream / Harvard University

The “traditional” primal scream as it’s practiced in many schools goes like this: Students step outside or stick their heads out the window around midnight during finals, release blood curdling screams to indicate their stress and blow off some steam, and then return to what they were doing as if nothing happened. Harvard has opted to make it a little more, well, primal. Students run around Harvard Yard in very little clothing on the first night of finals, cheering and yelling as they go.

Image: Harvard University/Facebook

Time Ceremony / Merton College in Oxford

Started in 1971, this tradition meant to ensure that clocks are turned back during daylight savings time sees Oxford students walking around the quad counter-clockwise and backwards at 2 a.m. while linking arms, wearing academic garb, and being completely inebriated on Port. It all sounds very, very scientific.

Image: Oxford University/Facebook

Dragon Day / Cornell University

Every year, freshman architecture students at Cornell construct a giant dragon to be paraded around campus in celebration of the start of spring. The students get really into it, finding ways to pump up their peers and provoke the engineering students, who build a phoenix to challenge the dragon. In past years, the dragon was set on fire once it reached the quad.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Fountain Dive / Florida State University

Westcott Fountain is an important fixture on FSU’s campus and if you’ve never taken a swim in it then you may not be considered a true FSU student. Tradition says that in order to become a true Seminole you must be dunked in the fountain on your 21st birthday. Even University Presidents have taken the dive.

Image: Andrew Young/Florida State University

Exam Time Offerings / University of Maryland, College Park

Around final exam time, the statue of Testudo the Terrapin is likely to be seen covered in what looks like trash but is really a collection of “offerings” — including notes, flashcards, food, drinks, and cigarettes —from students looking to get a little extra help on their final exams. Poor Testudo suffered an accident last year when a candle was left at the site and set the other offerings aflame. Testudo was unharmed and students offered special gifts to help him get better — Neosporin, a coloring book, and a band-aid.

Image: Getty Images

Scott Halleran/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Full Moon on the Quad / Stanford University

Ah college — the time in one’s life when it’s perfectly acceptable to initiate a make-out sesh with a random stranger. One Stanford tradition encourages this practice. At midnight on the first full moon of the fall quarter, seniors and freshman meet on the quad to kiss. Participants are likely to be seen taking a trip to the wellness center soon after, as it usually takes place in the middle of flu season.

Image: Stanford University/Facebook

Fourth Year Fifth / University of Virginia

One of the more risky college traditions, this ritual sees seniors (fourth-years) attempting to down a fifth of liquor before kickoff of the last home football game. Students defend the practice by saying “it isn’t alcoholism until you graduate”, and though school officials have attempted to end this tradition, it’s likely to continue as long as tailgating exists.

Image: Getty Images

Jay Paul/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Tortilla Toss / Baylor University

The Baylor Tortilla Toss is a strange tradition, but it’s Texas so what do you expect? Baylor students gather on the Waco suspension bridge to fling their tortillas onto a cement surface that sticks out of the water. Legend says that if you are able to land your tortilla on the platform as a freshman then you are guaranteed to graduate in four years. Because tortilla tossing is a real skill that ensures your success in college and beyond…

Image: Getty Images

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images