The Illumination Ceremonies are a longstanding and beloved Tufts tradition that take place on the first night of Orientation and 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.” Through this metaphor, we remind ourselves of our responsibility as a community to seek knowledge and to partner with communities and the world beyond to promote peace.
On the first night of Orientation, new 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.
Welcoming the incoming Tufts class, returning students who are connected with interfaith life at Tufts offered reflections on the themes of light in their traditions and cultures and on the Tufts values of service, self-care, and community. Their reflections can be found below:
September 1, 2018
Alumni Speaker: Sophia Estrada, A18
August 30, 2017
Alumni Speaker: Shreya Bhatia, A17
August 31, 2016
Alumni Speaker: Abdurrahman Abdurob, A15