Harassing The Freshman At The Bonfire

Title: Harassing The Freshman At The Bonfire

General Information about Item:

  • Customary Folklore, Tradition
  • English
  • USA

Informant Data:

  • The informant was a male Sophomore at Dartmouth who has experienced the bonfire two times.  He has experienced it both as a freshman and as an upperclassman, which are two vastly different experiences.

Contextual Data:

  • As already collected, there is an annual ritual at Dartmouth for freshmen to run laps around the homecoming fire.  This practice is encouraged and is widely participated in.  The upperclassmen, though, also have a role in this ritual.  Most upperclassmen, at least during their sophomore year, revel for this opportunity to be on the other side of this ritual.  Enthusiasm seems to die out as the students grow older.


  • “During the ritual of the freshmen running around the fire, the upperclassmen gather around the barriers and attempt to confuse and harass the freshmen.  They try to confuse them by yelling things such as “Touch the fire!” or “You’re running in the wrong direction!”.  Some upperclassmen even participate in the running while harassing the freshman.  Apparently, back in the day, the harassing was much worse.  It has become tamer and laid back since then.”

Informant’s Comments:

  • The informant said that he really enjoyed the tradition of running around the fire as a Freshman and was looking forward to being on the other side of it.  Surprisingly, though, he said it wasn’t really as fun as he anticipated and actually left before the end of the running.

Collector’s Comments:

  • I agree with the informant’s opinion.  The fire is a much bigger deal and much more fun as a Freshman.  I think it gets less interesting as you get older at Dartmouth, but I think the tradition remains because upperclassmen feel some sort of obligation to attend.

Collector’s Name: Devan Birch


  • Customary Folklore, tradition, homecoming, freshman

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