Pinning Ceremony: A Modern Pseudo-Engagement

Informant: “So pinning ceremonies are apparently, uh, a ‘Greek engagement’ is how she describes it. So if you are pretty sure you’re going to be engaged with your college sweetheart after you get out, you do this ritual ceremony in your respective [frat or sorority] houses, and like nobody’s supposed to know except for the head of your house and then they organize this like nighttime ritual where everyone who’s single has to like go and hold a candle–this is how she described it, I swear–and the guys have to all wear white and the girls have to all wear black. And the couple who’s, like, announcing their pseudo-engagement comes in and then everyone’s like ‘oh, that’s you!’ acting all surprised even though they know already. And then they pass a candle around, and then when it gets to them, the guy pins the girl with his fraternity letters.”


This is a practice that was described to my informant by a first-hand participant. This seems to hearken back to a supposed historical function of fraternities and sororities as a social environment for the grooming of marital relationships. It establishes any such relationship as part of the fabric of the respective houses, fixing the identity of the house and well as the other person into a permanent place in each other’s lives. It resists modern skepticism and criticism of early commitment to marriage, especially among the college educated, and chooses to embrace it.