One of my favorite Smith traditions is the annual, randomly-chosen Mountain Day.
Mountain Day falls in the two weeks before October break on a day that appears to be “the ideal Fall day.” The President of the college wakes up the morning of and gives the “OK” for the bells to be rung at 7AM. Many students wake up to the sounds of the bells and know that classes before 7PM are cancelled, and they are free to use the day as they please. For those of us who are in a boat on the water at 7AM, we wait for a coach to announce that they got the email. It’s a little less showy, but still very exciting (it also makes me row a little harder to get back to campus faster).
Most of the fun of Mountain Day is the speculation in the days leading up to it. There are Facebook groups and events with students analyzing which days are more likely because of weather or other days we have off in the semester, the history of when Mountain Day has traditionally fallen, and on which night “Quad Riot,” another tradition in which there is a protest outside of the President’s house begging her for the day off, will fall. Anticipation is in the air long before the bells ring.
Having classes cancelled is where the fun begins. Student houses each have their own traditions, usually going for brunch, apple picking, hiking, or baking Fall treats. I went for brunch and apple picking with my house First Year, but have stuck with my friend group every year since. We went shopping and for pie Sophomore Year; hiking and for lunch Junior Year; and eating, hiking, and photo-taking Senior Year.
Unfortunately, my first three years ended up with me alone in my room, wishing I had something else to do. However, this year I finished the day strongly with a movie-marathon with friends because we now live together, in an apartment.
I felt additional stress this year surrounding Mountain Day because of my off-campus classes. Because of the four other schools in the area, Smith students can enroll in courses at other campuses. This allows us to get off-campus and have new perspectives, but these other colleges don’t have our same traditions. Therefore, taking classes at other schools is a gamble with the randomness of Mountain Day. I take classes at UMass on Wednesdays, the most commonly chosen day of the week the President has chosen in the last few years. That Tuesday morning in the boat, I nearly screamed when I found out I was free from obligations to spend my Mountain Day as I pleased.
Smith alumnae share stories about how they still celebrate Mountain Day, even decades after graduating. Mountain Day makes Smith feel like a special space, leading me to feel even happier and luckier to be here.
Did/does your school have any awesome traditions like Mountain Day?