Magnolia Chain ceremony dates to 1890

Mariallen Moore
Photo by Mariallen Moore

Graduation is a special time of year for seniors. It is a time marked by closing chapters and looking forward to new beginnings. 

Nikki Campbell, a graduating art student, has spent all four of her college years at Mississippi University for Women. Saying goodbye is hard for her to do, but she is proud of the effort and time she has had here at The W.

“I can’t wait to proudly walk across the stage and feel all that I have accomplished in these four years,” Campbell said.

Despite her eagerness to begin the next chapter of her life, Campbell does look forward to graduation day itself.

One of the most beloved aspects of The W graduation ceremony is the Magnolia Chain (Mag Chain). Sophomores make preparations for the seniors’ graduation Mag Chain. The younger classmen were assigned this role because they often tended to be younger siblings to graduating seniors.

On the day of graduation there is a special ceremony, and seniors carry the chain of magnolias two-by-two down the aisle singing the “Magnolia Chain Song.” This chain links the current graduating class together. It also pays tribute to The W’s history.

This tradition began in 1890. The floral chain was originally comprised of daisies. Later on, the chain evolved.  

“It was begun with a daisy chain, until the students said they wanted a flower that represents who we are,” Dr. Bridget Pieschel said. “It has continued to be unbroken since then.”

A bouquet of daisies is carried down the aisle by the Student Government Association president to commemorate the graduates who began this tradition so long ago.

Because the Mag Chain tradition has taken place for over a century, it has a significant meaning to all students, especially those who have alums in their family.

“It’s a time for graduating students to come together in one line and be walking out, symbolizing walking into the future,” Julie Gibbons, an 18-year-old graduating senior, says of the Mag Chain tradition.

Gibbons’ mother is an alumna of The W.

This tradition signifies the hard work of the current graduating class. It also exemplifies the dedication and vision that graduates who came before them had for themselves and The W.

Much like previous graduates, Gibbons is excited and nervous for what is to come.

“You’re forced to start a new part of your life,” Gibbons said. “Leaving behind all of my friends and professors is disheartening almost, and it makes me nervous.”

As for looking forward into the future for coming graduates, Campbell is encouraging younger students to follow their dreams, as The W alums also hoped for her.

“You will finish it, and you will get through this degree,” Campbell said. “Follow your passion and work hard, and you will achieve anything you set your mind to.”

After the graduation ceremony is complete, the graduates will then gather in a circle. This circle is one last chance for the graduating class to be together. While in the circle, the graduates will sing the “Friendship Circle” song. After the song is sung, the graduates will make a dash for a magnolia blossom.

The Mag Chain tradition holds that a student who leaves The W with a magnolia flower in tow will have good fortune and relationships to come.