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Crowd of Jumbos at Illumination

The Illumination Ceremony for the incoming Class of 2026 will be held Wednesday, August 31 at 7:45pm. 

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. It is said that, 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.

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.

Learn more about the Illumination Ceremony