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11 Best College Traditions in California

11 Best College Traditions in California

Campus life can be quite fun, to say the least, and it's largely due to some of the best college traditions (like these).

Palig Dzadourian


5 min read

December 01, 2022

College years are considered to be one of the most important and eventful years of our youth. This is when we develop our skills, focus on which path to take to start a career and make long-lasting friendships. Even though the main goal of college is to study, this does not mean that having a good time on campus is not valued. 

Quite the contrary! Colleges in California make sure that their students have the absolute best activities and social lives at their campuses, and one of the many ways they go about this is by passing down college traditions from generation to generation. Here are some of the best college traditions you’ll find here.

UCLA Traditions 

UCLA life is chalk full of opportunities to show off your Bruin pride, and the following are only a few.

Spring Sing

Welcome to UCLA’s oldest and greatest musical tradition, Spring Sing! This is when musically talented students get to test their skills, by participating in the campus singing competition. Whether singing solo, in a duo, in a band, or in an acapella group, you’ll find a vibrant line-up demonstrating their vocal skills in front of 8,000 UCLA students.

Mardi Gras

Although this next one has not made it to the present day, Mardi Gras was a big part of UCLA traditions back in the 1940s. It started out in 1943 as a “Carnival” held in the women’s gym, with Elizabethan costumes and jigs and reels. Some even refer to this event as a masquerade ball, but the full details of how this tradition started are a bit foggy, so we don’t know for sure. The official Mardi Gras didn’t start until 1945, taking inspiration from this lively carnival. This tradition ended in 1995 due to financial difficulties and security reasons, but will always be remembered as one of the most fun UCLA traditions

College Traditions at UCI

Undie Run 

Ever felt like exam week was simply unbearable? Well at UCI, as on many other UC campuses, students have adopted the Undie Run, where you just let go of everything and go for a run—in your underwear. Just before midnight of finals week, while some students are cramming every last bit of information in the last minutes at the library, another group can be seen blowing off steam, running around the beautiful campus wearing nothing but underwear. The tradition of the UCI Undie Run has been going on for more than a decade, and will continue to do so for a long time as many find it quite liberating. 

Get your Anteater spirits up during Midnight Magic, one of UCI’s favorite sports traditions!

Midnight Magic

The UC Irvine basketball teams are highly renowned, and October marks the start of the Midnight Magic, or basketball season, each year. The festival itself is where the magic happens. There will be free food, beverages, and prize giveaways starting at 10:30 p.m. The men's and women's basketball teams will be introduced to the public via scrimmages, a three-point shootout, and a slam dunk competition. 

Celebrate UC Irvine 

Celebrate UCI is an annual open house event that takes place in the spring at the institution. Along with the Wayzgoose Medieval Fair, there will be student film screenings, a 10k run in conjunction with Earth Day Celebration, a car display on the green, and the Ultimate Frisbee competition on this day. The college campus will be teeming with activity throughout this time, offering a wide range of activities, food vendors, and performances for everyone to enjoy.

Traditions of UC Berkeley 

The Big Game 

UC Berkeley has always been known for exceeding in both academics and sports legacies. Due to Berkeley’s rivalry against Stanford in football, the tradition of The Big Game was created—one of the many UC Berkeley traditions. As both of these colleges are located within the San Francisco Bay Area, the ability for both teams to play against each other is higher. Every November is when the football games begin; always full of energy and excitement, with students, alumni, and outsider fans from each school cheering on their respective teams. The Big Game is one of the most school-spirited, memorable, and fun things to do in Berkeley

Although walking under the Athena statue of Doe Library may take away your wisdom, the library itself may just be worth it.

Walking under Athena

This next one is quite the superstitious tradition. Known for being among the most infamous campus traditions at UC Berkeley, walking under the statue of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, grants you wisdom according to campus beliefs. The statue is located at the entrance of Doe library, so once you go inside, you are sure to gain extra wisdom thanks to Athena. But be warned, because if you walk back out underneath the statue, she will take that wisdom away, so most students will stick to the backdoors of the library to exit.

Traditions of UC Davis 


Pajamarino is one of UC Davis’ most loved traditions, upkeeping the playfulness and excitement of the school at a high level. This is when you will see students of the university parading downtown dressed in their pajamas the night before Homecoming while singing the Aggie Fight Song. Strutting the campus in pajamas is one of the more common traditions in schools, and will without fail bring a smile to your face. To add to the fun, the Student Alumni Association gives out free food and hosts a pie-eating contest as well! One of the best college traditions indeed.

Zero Waste Whole Earth Festival 

The Zero Waste Whole Earth Festival dates back to the 1970s, bringing awareness to environmental activism, sustainability, and health. This tradition is celebrated every May and is beloved by the students of UC Davis. Everything you will find here, including the free food, entertainment, and performances, are zero waste, which is quite an impressive feat. There’s also a student run to promote inclusivity and strengthen the bonds of the student body. 

Traditions at Stanford University

- Splashing into the fountains around campus is an amazingly fun way to introduce students to their college life.

Fountain Hopping 

Going to Stanford might sound like one of the most intimidating academic experiences, however, that does not mean students never have fun! Fountain hopping has been a part of the university’s history for a while now, practiced by most freshmen. It’s as simple as it gets. During Student Orientation and Admit Week, every newly admitted student has to jump into every fountain around campus. This very California tradition is practiced in many other schools as well and is definitely a great way to destress for an introduction to the academic year, and it is one of the many fun things to do in Stanford, period. 

If you think this is scary then consider taking on the underground tunnels at Stanford with a grain of salt, as this is merely an eerie hallway.

The Underground Tunnel System

Stanford is among the oldest universities in California, and with that comes little bits and pieces of history scattered throughout campus. The underground tunnel system is one of them, dating back to 1881. The tunnels are connected to all the different campuses and were used as a saturated steam pumper in the older days. Some students thought it would be a fun test of courage to venture beneath university grounds, and wander about the tunnels. While not a very popular tradition, as it is quite dangerous to descend into the system, it is still practiced by a few daredevils. 

All in all, college life within the Golden State is going to be one of the most memorable chapters in your life. Regardless of which beautiful campus you’ll be calling home for four years, there will be a number of ways to show off your achievement with school spirit.

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