USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Pinning’
Initiations
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Pinning Ceremony

My informant is a USC student and member of a sorority at the University. She is bi-racial of black and Caucasian ancestry.

 

“Usually towards the end of the school year there are these things called pinnings, and it happens when a senior guy in a fraternity and a senior girl in a sorority have a ceremony of the guy “pinning” the girl—with a pin—which signifies their love being bigger than his brotherhood with his fraternity, as he sticks his pin on her chest over her heart.”

 

Analysis: This ceremony is one that only takes place within Greek life, and as such the tradition is passed down verbally and visually within the Greek community. My informant wasn’t aware of the ceremony until she joined a sorority and witnessed it happen to one of her friends. The pinning ceremony is one that reflects a declaration of love and devotion for a boy for a girl, which is incredibly significant within male greek life as a guy’s fraternal “brothers” are (up until that point) the most important people in his life. A more Freudian explanation for the ceremony may be a means of the boy making it known to everyone that he is engaging in sexual intercourse with the girl of his choice, by sticking his “pin” onto her.

Customs
Initiations
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Pinning

Just the other day one of my best friends had “pinned” his girlfriend of three years and so I sat him down to talk about the act of pinning and what it meant to him.  He is a student at USC and a senior.

Me: Please explain, “pinning” to me.

Informant: It’s a tradition at USC and I think all across the nation in Greek life but not sure about that.  It’s really just a way for me to express my love and appreciation for [name] as we get close to graduation.

Me: Right, but what actually happens during the ceremony?

Informant: The girls do a whole bunch of ritual shit on their side that I don’t know about, but the guys all get dressed up in suits and each take a rose to the girl getting pinned.  Also the couple involved both have two of their best friends give speeches that are usually funny.  After that the guy gives his fraternity pin to the girl, which is suppose to signify him giving up his dedication to the fraternity and giving it to her. Then the girls do some of their sorority songs and whatever and everyone goes to the 90.

Me: Does this happen often?

Informant: Not at all I have only seen three in my fraternity since I have been here.

Me: So this is a big event that everyone shows up to?

Informant: Ya pretty much, its during Monday Night Dinner, which is the most popular meal of the week so most of the house shows up.

Me: How many people would you say?

Informant: I’d say like 60 people from each house.

This long-standing custom between couples on the Row shows how strong the brotherhood and sisterhood becomes throughout the years.  I found it amazing that so many people would show up to support this “pinning” when they probably aren’t even that close to the couple.   This custom also shows the importance placed on the guy’s allegiance to his fraternity, because it seems to be an equal trade for the allegiance to his girlfriend.

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