SparkNotes Blog

How Other Countries Celebrate Graduation

It’s the end of an era! Graduation means that life as you know it is about to change.
We all try to make the transition as painless, fun, and important as possible by throwing parties, giving $25 checks in tacky cards, taking roughly 14 million pictures, and having very very formal ceremonies in weird flat hats. (When you throw your hat in the air, do be careful, eyes can get poked out when the hats come back down.) This is all good and exciting, but it can also be exhausting. There is a lot of protocol and rehearsal, and you have to have a small talk-y conversation about your future with everyone you’ve ever met because they’re all at your house, eating crackers and cheese and looking at your baby photos. But who cares?! The money, presents, parties, and polyester gowns are all part of our tried and true traditions.
But not everyone does it like America. Some countries do some pretty weird stuff to commemorate graduation:
Argentina: If you are a senior in Argentina, your worst nightmare is the second you’re done with your last exam. Imagine you’re taking the very last test of your high school career. It’s a doozy, and you’re all, “Let’s DO this, let’s get this over with,” because then you can relax and celebrate, right? Ummm sort of. Outside the classroom, your friends are waiting to basically assault you with every sticky disgusting, throwable, stinky food they could find. Ketchup, syrup, pepper, bad yogurt! Plus scissors to cut up your clothes! It is like a full-on, super fun, crazy person attack, but everyone is having a great time, because, fun!*
Russia: Here, graduation is called The Last Bell. As in “This is the last school bell you will ever have to listen to! Are you pumped! Go! Be free! The girls all wear black dresses with white aprons in an homage to their Tsarist-era school uniforms, which seems weird, but then you see that they’re just mad cute, and it’s fun to wear a costume and not a sweaty weird cloak. Then all the graduating students line up in front of the whole school, to sort of be like, “we’re out of here suckers, have fun” and then leave and party. Ms. Universe type sashes are also worn.
Italy: We found that for a lot of countries, graduation is an exercise in public humiliation, and Italy is no different. There are so many kinds of high schools with different concentrations that the ceremony varies for everyone, but it is often some form of dressing in an embarrassing costume, being covered in food by passers by, or hopping around with your shoe laces tied together. Your mother is also probably there, holding a laurel wreath and beaming with pride. God.
Sweden: This is it. This is where the party is at. (Never end a sentence with a proposition like we just did, you guys). You may be surprised, but Swedes know how to let loose. Here’s the itinerary:
-Meet at the park for a breakfast champagne toast. Legal.
-Put on white sea captain hats and sashes. (These hats will be covered with notes and well wishes by the end of the day.)
-Meet again at the school. Start chanting and singing as you exit that stupid place for the last time ever.
-As a group, sing your way out to the street where there’s a mob of families holding signs with giant embarrassing pictures of everyone’s childhood faces.
-Climb into your respective make-shift truck bed/parade float and ride around town all day drinking champagne, singing, yelling, and stopping to take the occasional swim in the public fountains. Tradition! It almost makes high school worth it.
Does your school have any weird graduation traditions?