The story of Groundhog’s inception is well known for its ridiculousness: while seeking to implement a new tradition, the idea of celebrating Groundhog Day was thrown out as a joke. Fifty-four years later, the school has defiantly refused to acknowledge the suggestion as a joke. It is a cherished tradition that has come to be an inalienable part of the University of Dallas experience.
Seeing people run around at Mallapalooza with flower crowns and face paint, one has a similar feeling of there being a joke behind the event, albeit less intentionally than with Groundhog. This isn’t Coachella or SXSW.
Many of our own graduate students were clueless as to why Facilities was setting up a stage on the Mall.
There wasn’t even the benefit of sun to lend credibility to the springtime sentiment.
Thinking about Malla, Groundhog, Spring Formal and other school events given the hallowed stamp of “tradition,” it all seems a bit ridiculous. We hold events seemingly for no other purpose than to someday claim to have traditions.
At the same time, there is something to be celebrated in this. We may not have much history, but what history we do have we cling to.
Oktoberfest, Winter Cotillion and Charity Week can easily be sources of rolled eyes, snide jokes, and oh-so-ironic-dancing-but-not-really dancing. That approach would be missing the point. We know it is silly. Nevertheless, we choose to embrace these traditions together and have fun with them.
We buy into the absurdity. No one actually knows whether the Groundhog saw his shadow or not. The amount of people who act like Mallapalooza is an actual music festival is miniscule. The fact that Spring Formal is essentially a college version of prom is only used as an excuse to make it even more of a big deal. Even failed attempts at tradition, like Rave ’n Bran, are still spoken of in reverent tones.
Once we leave the Bubble, there will be plenty of occasions to be cool and serious. There will be time for that.
Right now we can, and should, embrace the Dionysian absurdity of dancing under cloud cover. We can carry on the tradition of those first alumni and refuse to see the joke.
In short, we need to get over it and stop trying to be cool. These ridiculous traditions of our school are what make this university more than just a cluster of classrooms.
It is our traditions that make us a community; whether it is the small ones like daring escapes from Charity Week jail or the larger ones like Malla.