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Candid Campus: The Lesser-Known Narratives of Bryn Mawr College

Big May Day: Dawn of a Tradition

May Day, one of Bryn Mawr's most beloved traditions, initially began as a fundraiser for a student's building. First held in 1900, Bryn Mawr alumna and Big May Day director Evangeline Andrews (née Walker) themed the event around the Elizabethan Era because, "the rolling hills, well-tilled fields... [and] ivy-covered buildings of Elizabethan architecture" were already evocative of the English past. [1] Over the course of six weeks, students devoted countless hours to preparing plays, rehearsing dances, and setting up scenery around campus to create an atmosphere that was sure to delight attendants. And it did: Big May Day was so successful that it was celebrated every four to six years henceforth and even hatched Little May Day, a similar but scaled down celebration. Euretta Simons, Class of 1936, chronicled Big May Day of 1936, the ninth incarnation of the fête, in her scrapbook.


[1] "The Bryn Mawr May Day," from The Order of the Revels: May Day BMC 1932.