What Is Graduation Cap Called


What Is a Graduation Cap Called?

Graduation ceremonies are a significant milestone in one’s academic journey. They symbolize the culmination of years of hard work, dedication, and personal growth. One iconic symbol associated with graduation is the cap worn by graduates. But have you ever wondered what this cap is called? In this article, we will explore the origins and significance of this cap, commonly known as a “mortarboard,” and delve into some frequently asked questions surrounding this cherished graduation accessory.

Origins of the Graduation Cap

The graduation cap, or “mortarboard,” has a long and rich history dating back to the 12th century. The term “mortarboard” is derived from the resemblance of the cap to a mason’s tool called a “mortarboard,” which is used for holding mortar during bricklaying. The design of this cap consists of a flat, square or rectangular board with a small, stiff crown attached to it. The board is often covered with fabric, and a tassel is suspended from the crown.

The mortarboard was initially worn by scholars and clergymen in medieval Europe. It served a practical purpose, protecting their heads from the elements while walking to and from university buildings. Eventually, this headgear became associated with academic achievement and was adopted as part of graduation regalia.

Why Is It Called a Mortarboard?

The term “mortarboard” originated due to the cap’s resemblance to the tool used by masons. The mortarboard tool consists of a flat board with a handle, which is used for holding mortar during construction. When the academic cap was first introduced, its board-like shape reminded people of this tool, leading to the adoption of the term “mortarboard” to describe the graduation cap.

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The Significance of the Graduation Cap

The graduation cap holds great symbolism in academic traditions. It represents the achievement of completing a course of study and serves as a visual marker of a person’s educational accomplishments. When worn during graduation ceremonies, it signifies the transition from a student to a graduate, ready to venture into the world and apply the knowledge gained.

The flat, square shape of the mortarboard is said to symbolize the shape of a book, signifying the pursuit of knowledge and the importance of education. The tassel attached to the crown is often worn on the right side of the cap before the degree is conferred. During the graduation ceremony, when the degree is awarded, the graduate moves the tassel to the left side, symbolizing the transition from candidate to graduate.

FAQs about the Graduation Cap

Q: Can I decorate my graduation cap?
A: Many educational institutions allow students to decorate their graduation caps, as long as the decorations align with the institution’s guidelines and policies. It is essential to check with your school or college about any specific rules before personalizing your cap.

Q: Can I keep my graduation cap?
A: Yes, graduates are typically allowed to keep their graduation caps as a memento of their accomplishment. It can serve as a cherished keepsake, representing the years of hard work and dedication put into earning a degree.

Q: Can I wear a different color tassel?
A: The color of the tassel often signifies the graduate’s field of study or academic achievement. However, specific tassel colors may vary among different educational institutions and countries. It is best to consult your school or college for guidance on the appropriate tassel color to wear.

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Q: Can I wear my graduation cap for any other occasion?
A: While the graduation cap holds significant meaning during graduation ceremonies, it is not a commonly worn accessory for other events. It is primarily reserved for academic milestones and is typically not worn outside of graduation-related activities.

In conclusion, the iconic graduation cap, commonly known as a “mortarboard,” has deep historical roots and holds great symbolism in academic traditions. Its square shape symbolizes the pursuit of knowledge, while the tassel movement during the ceremony signifies the transition from candidate to graduate. Graduates often cherish their caps as a keepsake, representing their educational journey. So, as you don your own mortarboard, remember the historical significance and the achievements it represents.