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Laurel Chain
A Solemn Parade into the future


Class of 1922 with their Laurel Chain. courtesy MHC Archives

Procession of the Laurel Chain during the parade of 1947. courtesy MHC Archives

Linked by Laurel - The basic concept of the Laurel Chain originated in 1900 but in the form of wreaths, rather than a laurel chain. By 1902 it became the familiar chain of laurel. During commencement week, the seniors, dressed in white and linked by the chain, carry it up to Mary Lyon's grave, where the chain is solemnly and slowly wrapped around the fence enclosing the grave. The chain is made out of mountain laurel, chosen to represent the bay laurel used by the Romans in wreaths and crowns of honor. Originally, the chain was made of laurel hand picked by freshman, but when mountain laurel became scarce, the chain was made out of daisies or ribbon, and was eventually obtained from a florist at the expense of the freshman class. In 1932 the Laurel Chain became the crowning glory of the Alumnae Parade, which it remains a major part of to this day. In 1970, the senior class voted to carry signs protesting the Vietnam war rather than bear the laurel chain. They donated the funds that would normally have been spent on the chain to a summer program for disadvantaged girls. The laurel chain returned shortly after and it has continued since that time to the present. The Laurel Chain is one of the most recognizable and most beloved traditions of commencement week, as it marks the transition from the student community of Mount Holyoke to the life of a proud alumna.

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This page was created by Jennifer Loomer '04 and Katherine Underwood '05 in History 283, Fall Semester 2003 and