Cal Game Day

Title: Cal Game Day

General Information about Item:

  • Type of Folklore: Customary Folklore – Tradition
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Informant: YS
  • Date Collected: 5/19/20

Informant Data:

  • YS is a University of California, Berkeley student in the class of 2020 majoring in Economics. He grew up in Greenland. During his childhood, he seldom attended football games or watched them on TV; his interest in the sport was sparked during his college years. During his time at Berkeley, YS has been an active member of his fraternity and an avid You-Tuber. In a few months, he will launch his career in management consulting.

Contextual Data:

  • Cultural Context: University of California, Berkeley (known colloquially as “Cal”) boasts one of the top football teams in the Pac-12 athletic conference. Coached by Justin Wilcox, the team plays its home games in the California Memorial Stadium. The sport is a large revenue-generator for the university and freshmen receive free season pass tickets.
  • Social Context: Cal football games usually begin in the early afternoon. Given that UC Berkeley students like to begin their game-day traditions before the game begins, they will eagerly wake up early on game days. Game days are a school-wide tradition, and involvement is wide-spread among the student body.


  • Festivities will usually begin at around 7:00 a.m. on the day of the game, sometimes as early as 6:00 a.m. “Die in the Sky” is a common pregame ritual involving throwing a dice into the air and trying to land it on the table to make your opponent drink. YS’s fraternity plays “Die in the Sky” first-thing-in-the-morning on every game day. The brothers of the fraternity, their friends, and their girlfriends will often attend the ritual that takes place at the fraternity house. In addition to playing “Die in the Sky,” the attendees will feast on take-out food such as In-n-Out, and YS likes to share his favorite dish from Greenland: pickled herring. The brothers of the fraternity will make grand posters, supporting Cal Berkeley Football and chiding the opponents, to place on the street-facing side of their fraternity house

Associated File

Transcript Highlights:

  • “Especially for men in fraternities, football is a big deal. The parties that we have are very large.”
  • “We start early in the morning on the day of the game—7:00 a.m., 6:00 a.m.”
  • “There is a phrase called ‘die in the sky,’ referring to a common drinking game of beer…you throw dice into the air and try to land them on the table to make your opponent drink. We play this on every game day. It is a ritual.”
  • “The brothers of the fraternity, the friends of the brothers, the girlfriends of the brothers, the friends who are girls of the brothers, they all come…game days at Berkeley are a celebration”
  • “We feast on In-n-Out. I like to bring Greenland food. We like pickled herring in Greenland”
  • “We wear the uniforms of our foot-ballers and the uniforms of local sports celebrities”
  • “We like to alert our opponents that we are not to be trifled with. We make big, grand posters to cover up the entrances of our houses and we write things like ‘your players numbers are their IQs'”

Informant’s Comments

  • YS has almost seamlessly integrated into American college life, and he is excited to begin his professional career in the States.

Collector’s Comments

  • YS was very honest and direct, so his description of his Cal Berkeley game day ritual was especially fascinating
  • Obviously, waking up early in the morning on a weekend while balancing a challenging course load and a busy schedule is difficult. But game days occur approximately six times each year, so Cal students make them count.

Collector’s Name: SH


  • Ritual
  • Cal Berkeley
  • Die in the Sky