#TBT – Traditions from Times Past

Iowa State University has a ton of traditions. New traditions get developed and old ones fade away. Today’s post is about White Breakfasts, a now defunct tradition. Please note, the caption for the image below states that the White Breakfast was first observed in Lyon Hall in 1915. Our Reference Specialist, Becky notes below that this ceremony was first observed in 1918. The 1918 observance is documented in Julian C. Schilletter‘s The First 100 Years of Residential Housing at Iowa State University Dr. Schilletter held many positions at Iowa State and was the Director of Residence Halls from 1946-1967.

From the Reference Files of Becky Jordan, Reference Specialist

WHITE BREAKFASTS

Almost a dozen young women wearing white dresses, holding candles, standing on stairs of their dorm, singing. The caption below this image reads: "On the last Sunday before examination in December the White Breakfast ceremony is observed in women's residence halls. Each advisor lights the candles of her advisees, and beginning on the top floor, the residents of the hall come caroling and carrying candles to breakfast. Devotions are observed afterwards. Traditionally the women wear white dresses or white blouses. First observed in Lyon Hall in 1915, the custom is now universal in the women's residence group."

From “News of Iowa” December 1955 issue (LH1. N39 Archives).

White Breakfasts were observed in the women’s residence halls from 1918 through the early 1960s.  Originated by a Lyon Hall housemother, they were held the last Sunday before the holiday break in December.  The residents dressed in white and carried lighted candles.  A caroling procession started on the top floor of each dormitory and proceeded to the dining rooms, where a special breakfast menu was served.

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