May Day 2020

A Month of May Day

In light of the Governor’s order to “stay at home,” the increasing number of coronavirus cases and our desire to keep the Bluffton Village and the Bluffton University communities safe, the decision has been made to postpone in-person gatherings for May Day and graduation weekend.

While we are unable to celebrate together on campus, the Alumni Office is excited to bring some of Bluffton's most treasured traditions to you!

Starting Monday, April 13, we will be sharing stories, videos, photos and more here and on the Bluffton University Facebook event. Check back regularly for new features!
updated 4/22/2020

Hear from May day Queen Leslie Beasley

Thank you May Day Queen Leslie Beasley for sharing words of encouragement to your classmates and to us all! Click here to hear from Leslie.

Legacy program

Did you know Bluffton University has a Legacy Program? This program is for children and grandchildren of Bluffton alumni. Starting as newborns, Bluffton legacy kids can receive gifts from J. Denny and Jenny on various birthdays, and Bluffton awards a renewable $1,000 Alumni Grant to new first-year or transfer students whose parents, grandparents or siblings are Bluffton alumni or current students.

Congratulations from the Class of 1970

Each year, the 50th class selects a representative to speak to the graduating class. This year, the Class of 1970 chose Gail Wasem Rose as the spokesperson. Thank you to the Class of 1970 for your support of Bluffton University and this graduating class! 

Class reunions

Do you want to reconnect with your classmates? The Alumni Office is here to help! We would love to assist in planning a Virtual Class Reunion. We will help you select a day and time, set up the Zoom meeting and promote it to your classmates. Contact Claire Clay, alumni relations manager, to begin the process!

  • Social work graduates: Current program faculty are hosting a special reunion via Zoom at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 18. Grab a coffee and reconnect with other social work graduates. Click the here to join the reunion:
  • Class of 1980: Join Randy Keeler '80 at  7 p.m. on Saturday, May 2, for a special class reunion via Zoom! Click here to join the reunion:

2020 May day king and queen

Congratulations to Von Thomas and Leslie Beasley for being voted this year's May Day King and Queen! We look forward to a time when we can have a coronation ceremony!

May Day Queen 2020

May Day King 2020

The History of May Day

Bluffton students, parents and alumni celebrate May Day each year on an early May weekend. This celebration includes alumni reunions, graduation events and student activities.

An important part of graduation weekend is the May Day ceremony, one of Bluffton’s oldest traditions. It intertwines the past with alumni reunions, the present by honoring this year's graduates, and the future when honored first-year students perform the traditional Maypole dance. 

The May Day tradition at Bluffton University dates back to 1910 and continues to feature the Maypole dance, perhaps the most spectacular event of the weekend.

Each year, 16 first-year students, eight men and eight women, are chosen to dance the Maypole dance. The dance takes place around a large pole. The dancers, wearing colorful, Germanic-style costumes, encircle the pole. Then each couple in turn grabs two streamers that are hung from the top of the pole. The dancers proceed to weave the streamers around the pole. When the dancers have wound their streamers part way down the pole, the weaving stops and each couple is reunited.

m dance May Day celebrations were once popular across the United States at many colleges and universities. However, they are now rare.

May Day celebrations date back to 238 B.C. in Rome. The Roman holiday was a celebration of the goddess Flora and the coming of spring. In England, May Day was a celebration of flowers and the coming of spring after a cold winter. The May Day dance represented the joy of the coming of spring and the streamers represented the rays of the sun.

At Bluffton the May Day celebration represents the end of a school year for students, the beginning of a new chapter for seniors and the remembrance of times past for alumni. The tradition weaves together past, present and future around the Maypole in a never-ending circle.