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Illumination for the Class of 2025 and the Class of 2024

Illumination Ceremonies 2021

Update: Due to the weather, the Illumination Ceremony for the Class of 2024 will be held on Wednesday, September 8 instead of Thursday, September 9. 

The Illumination Ceremonies are a longstanding and beloved Tufts tradition that take place in the first weeks of new student Orientation and again on the eve of Commencement. According to legend, when Charles Tufts donated the land for the university to be built upon, he said he would put “a light on that hill.” By lighting candles during Illumination, we remind ourselves of our responsibility as a community to seek knowledge and to partner with communities and the world beyond to promote peace.

This year, we will welcome the Class of 2025 and transfer students on Friday, September 3, at 8:15 p.m..  to the President's Lawn for words of welcome, reflections on the theme of light, and a performance by S-Factor.

We will also welcome the Class of 2024, returning sophomores, for their in-person event on Wednesday, September 8, 2021 at 7:45 p.m. The Illumination Ceremony for the Class of 2024 was held virtually in 2020, and we are deeply glad to be able to host the class in-person. You can experience the virtual ceremony here on our YouTube page.

History of the Illumination Ceremony

Crowd of Jumbos at Illumination

Usually on the first night of Orientation, first year and transfer students gather on the President’s Lawn beneath Goddard Chapel for a ritual that involves words of welcome, reflections by students on the heritage and values of Tufts, and musical performances. Then approximately 1,600 entering students, faculty, and staff light the candles of the people around them. The candlelight slowly progresses up the hill until the whole hillside is lit. On the eve of Commencement, the class gathers again to repeat this ritual and to place “a light on the hill” before venturing out into the world.