Traditions: Old and New

Author: Katherine O’Neal


Not every student has the opportunity to attend a university that generations of their own family members have attended before them. For the Fighting Irish, however, legacies such as these, as well as decade-long traditions, are normal.

For many, Notre Dame traditions are ingrained in their childhood as much as their own family traditions. A large part of the reason first year student Bridget Brown chose to attend Notre Dame was because of the intimate community she had heard about from her grandfather, mother and father.

“I definitely was most looking forward to the community here at Notre Dame,” she explained. “I’ve been coming here since I was a baby, and my family would take vacations to come visit. Notre Dame was such a magical place for me growing up. It was like Disneyland.”

Tradition, superstition and habit are integral parts of the classic Notre Dame culture — but they also remain with many students even after graduation. In addition to participating in the usual gameday football traditions, from tailgating to watching the players walk, Brown explained that her family’s traditions now include certain elements of Notre Dame.

“My parents made a rule where we had to wear Notre Dame merch every game day, even at home, or else we would lose,” Brown recalled fondly. “My mom also would play ‘Here Come the Irish’ in the car when me and my siblings were little; I know it by heart. I’ve probably seen ‘Rudy’ upwards of 50 times.”

Many of these traditions are decades old and have been passed down between several generations of students. Brown’s grandfather, a member of the class of 1956, would recollect his own college memories with his granddaughter. One of his favorite traditions was making a toast on Father Hesburgh’s birthday — lest the football team would have bad luck the following football season. Celebrating game days as their own form of a holiday is a tradition that has been around since the team was founded in 1887.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions on campus, Brown could not participate in many of the Notre Dame traditions that she has looked forward to. However, she explained that she and the other first years “have tried to use our resources as much as we can. I spent so much time out on the quads and met a lot of people during Welcome Week doing that, and playing volleyball at Duncan Hall is where I met most of my best friends. So even though we didn’t get all the ‘typical’ traditions, I hope that things like that become our new traditions.”