Saturday, May 13
There are a lot of things in every culture that are remnants of the past, things that once had meaning. Graduation mortar boards is one of them. What a weird kind of hat. If I wanted to call attention to myself while walking down the street, wearing a mortar board would do it. So what is the significance of wearing the mortar board at graduation time? My first thought is that the mortar board is a symbol of the work ethic. For graduates, would that mean that they put in a lot of hard work to get that diploma or degree? Or maybe it means that they still have a lot of hard work ahead of them. But why throw the mortar boards into the air? Is there some reason for that? To learn more about this, I looked up the history of this weird practice. Although the roots of this practice are not certain, it has nothing to do with mixing mortar or laying bricks. The term “mortar board” was adopted later to describe the “hat”—square and flat. The origin could have been a spin off of the Roman Catholic regalia worn by bishops and popes in the middle ages. And that was to elevate man, not God. The RCC no doubt borrowed that from the secular kings, who did all they could to gain prestige. Academic dignitaries lead the way in promoting self by robes and mortar boards. So graduations today do the same thing—cater to pride and egotism. Sad to say, some Protestant churches do the same. Maybe vestments were designed to show reverence for God, but they end up elevating the one wearing them. OK, this is somewhat of a negative spin on graduations, but I insist that unregenerate man is the same—yesterday, today and forever.