text: “So I went to boarding school in Rhode Island, and we have one really big rival school. Before we play that rival in football and every fall sport, which is one big weekend in the fall, the night before we’ll have a big banquet to kick of the Middlesex weekend. In the tradition, our school makes a cake of a zebra, which is the mascot of the other school, and the headmaster will cut the head off the zebra cake at the banquet dinner. This is basically the start of the weekend and chopping off the head of the zebra shows that we will beat them in all of the competitive sports coming. Also, the school’s art department creates a giant paper mache zebra and burns it in the middle of campus. These are like a good-luck tradition and gives our school an annual spirit holiday/festival weekend.” -Informant
context: The boarding schools of the Northeast all have a very competitive rivalry between one another. Therefore when they play each other in sports they have different traditions and rituals in order to give them good luck. The informant stated that the school has done this ritual for decades and it continues through the present. This tradition only happens once a year, when they play the rivalry school in the fall.
analysis: This tradition reminds me of USC’s rivalry with UCLA. When we play them in any sport we say things like “Beat the Bruins” or “kill the bears.” We don’t burn down anything or cut the head off of a fake bear, but we do have someone dress up in a bear costume and we cake them with whipped cream. I think this is a huge tradition between any school and their rivals, and gives them a sense of pride for where they attend.