…Edward Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March no.1 in D Major – the perennial favorite of graduation ceremonies – was first performed at Yale University in 1906?
According to the Yale Bulletin & Calendar archives, additional schools adopted the march for their ceremonies over the next decade, including Princeton, Chicago, and Columbia. By the 1920s, the march was widely performed.
Bonus: the ‘hat toss’ tradition is attributed to the United States Naval Academy class of 1912. Before then, graduates were required to serve two years as midshipmen before being commissioned as Navy officers. At the 1912 ceremony, officer hats were issued with the commission, and graduates tossed their no-longer-needed midshipmen hats into the air. (Source: United States Department of Defense).