From May Day to GIG: The History of Get into Goucher
Article by Kylie Miller
One of the most anticipated events of the spring semester at Goucher College is GIG, short for Get Into Goucher Day. GIG is coming up this Friday and is sure to be fun filled with food, live music, inflatables, and the best part—no classes after noon! The tradition of GIG started back when Goucher was an all female college, only it was known as “May Day” originally.
According to The History of Goucher College by Anna Heubeck Knipp and Thaddeus P. Thomas, the first May Day took place in 1920. May Day events included games, food, boat rides, car parades, horse shows, and various performances by students including dance recitals and full-length plays.
The biggest tradition of May Day was a pageant for the crowning of the May Queen. The Freshman Handbook of 1943-1944 informed new students about this tradition, describing it as,“May Day triumphantly ushers in the spring season with a glorious pageant on the Towson campus. The most beautiful girls of the Senior class make up the Court of the May Queen.”
May Day evolved throughout the years, moving from picnic-like to carnival-like in the 1940s. However, the tradition of crowning May Queen and Court lived on well into the 1960s. It wasn’t until 1980 that May Day transformed into GIG when Goucher became a co-ed college. The Quindecim (Volume 73, Issue 12) described the creation of GIG and the intent of the House Council, while advertising GIG of 1987:
The choice to “reinstate a tradition” was taking the carnival aspects of May Day and turning it into GIG Day. The first GIG celebrations in the 1980s parallel closely with the GIG we know and love today.
Today, Goucher College’s website describes GIG as “the traditional ‘May Day’ celebration. This spring day begins with the ringing of the chapel bells to end classes and signaling the start of carnival rides, games, food, and music. This event promotes college-wide festivities for all students, faculty, staff, and their families.”
GIG 2015 (Courtesy of Goucher College Facebook Page.)
The journey from May Day to GIG is just one aspect of the historical growth of Goucher College. To learn more, visit the Special Collections and Archives Department on the fourth floor of the Atheneum or online at Goucher College Digital Library. Have a great time at GIG this Friday!