Each year, Tri Delta seniors are honored at Pansy Breakfast
celebrations across the country, which mark the transition between college life
and life in the real world. This beautiful tradition honors graduating seniors
and celebrates their accomplishments. It is also used to present Circle Degree
to the seniors and to show these new alumnae that Tri Delta can continue to be
part of their life long after graduation.
The tradition of honoring graduating senior members of a
collegiate chapter is nearly as old as the fraternity itself. One of the
earliest mentions of the custom goes back to 1908 when the December 1908 Triton
suggested a "pansy luncheon" for spring. The article goes on to say,
"Practically every chapter gives a farewell of some kind for the seniors. What
more appropriate than pansies for thoughts of them?"
Theta Xi chapter at the University of Southern California hosted the first Pansy Breakfast in 1927, and the following year started the tradition of a creating large ring covered with thousands of live pansies for all of the engaged graduating seniors in the university to step through as their names and the names of their future spouses were announced. This unique Pansy Breakfast tradition gained national attention in 1945, when Life Magazine attended the celebration and published a photo essay on the event in its July 23 edition. The Life article chronicled the tremendous amount of work involved in hosting the event: from gathering thousands of fresh pansies from all over Los Angeles, to keeping the flowers fresh in water filled buckets, sinks and even bathtubs, to the dinner party where Tri Delta members would tie thousands of pansies to toothpicks for assembly onto the giant ring, and finally the organization of the breakfast usually held in the garden of the Tri Delta house. Along with the pansy ring ceremony, the breakfast would highlight senior accomplishments and awards. There would often be a fashion show featuring wedding gowns and trousseau items.
The idea then began to spread to other chapters and became so popular that a 1952Trident featured an article on "How to Give a Pansy Breakfast," highlighting many chapters at Beloit, DePauw, Indiana, Ohio State, Oregon and Tennessee and their celebrations.
The tradition continues today, with an emphasis on the
accomplishments of the chapter's graduating seniors, including academic awards,
new jobs and post-graduate education plans in addition to the traditional
engagement announcements. Some chapters will change the name of the event to a
Pansy Brunch or Pansy Dessert depending on the specific event plans. Because
this is a time to recognize the transition from collegian to alumnae member,
many alumnae chapters will the occasion to celebrate the Circle Degree for the
seniors and welcome them to alumnae membership.
This long standing tradition of Pansy Breakfasts give our alumnae chapters the opportunity to show graduating seniors that the bonds of Tri Delta extend beyond college years and collegiate and alumnae chapters are able to nurture and strengthen the ties that bind them.