Touching The Homecoming Fire

Title: Touching The Homecoming Fire

General Information about Item:

  • Customary Folklore, Tradition
  • English
  • USA

Informant Data:

  • The informant was an anonymous male Dartmouth Junior who has actually participated in this ritual. Age: 20.  He is one of the very few people on campus that participated in the ritual during their freshman year.

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.  This ritual, though, is rare and does not happen often.  Maybe 1 or 2 freshmen a year participate in it.  It is not necessarily encouraged, but more so accepted.  It is encouraged somewhat throughout the freshman class alone in an attempt to have a member participate in it.  But, the administration and security take steps to attempt to discourage this ritual greatly.


  • “Every year before the homecoming fire, upperclassmen constantly tell the freshmen to touch the fire.  They claim that somebody has done it every year.  They attempt to scare the freshmen by telling them that they will be the ‘worst class ever’ if nobody does it.  Obviously, nobody wants to be the worst class ever.  So it ends up happening every year as 1 or 2 people end up taking it into their own hands to touch the fire.  Touching the fire usually ends up in some sort of arrest or punishment, since you have to dodge SNS and Hanover Police officers to even get close to the fire.  But it’s always worth it because you can always say that you’re the one that touched the fire.”

Informant’s Comments:

  • The informant was actually arrested for doing this.  He says he does not regret participating in this ritual.  In fact, he was proud of it.

Collector’s Comments:

  • I found it interesting that people actually get arrested for this.  It seems also that they know that is a possibility going into it.  For a tradition with such harsh punishment, it is surprising that it has lived on.

Collector’s Name: Devan Birch


  • Customary Folklore, tradition, homecoming, freshman

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *