Tombs Night at Georgetown

Background information: OLP is a 21-year-old student at Georgetown University in DC. They were raised in the Bay Area, but currently live in DC for school. They have lived there for the past couple years, but only recently physically went back to Georgetown for classes. Because of this, they have had a good amount of exposure to Georgetown culture.

OLP: Georgetown students have a tradition of having this thing called a “Tombs Night” when they turn 21, it’s like, where you have a party and then go to this bar called the Tombs. And I had mine this year!

Me: Oh, I remember! How was it? 

OLP: It was fun (laughs). It definitely felt like something that was really, um, hyped up, so it was exciting.

Me: How did you learn about Tombs Night? 

OLP: I know this because I was invited to upperclassmen’s tombs nights like last year (laughs). I don’t think I know where or when it originated, but I think it’s been said that it’s because the Tombs is notoriously difficult to get into with a fake, so no one even tries until they’re 21. So yeah, even though I was invited, I didn’t ever actually go to the bar until this year. It’s like a big way to celebrate being 21, so the person’s friends will host a party for them and invite as many people as possible. And for some reason they stamp your forehead at the door when it’s your birthday. So it’s a whole thing, so I assume it must be kind of old. 

Me: Do you know how it got to be such a big thing? 

OLP: No, I feel like people just want a reason to party on their 21st though, right. Oh and also, it’s usually a way for people to go socialize during the winter when club events are kind of dead. At least I feel like it is. 

This piece of folklore was very intriguing because of how specific it is to students at Georgetown. Through word of mouth, despite the fact that students do not seem to know the origin of the tradition, everyone knows that it can act as sort of a rite of passage for Georgetown students turning 21. “Tombs Night” being a tradition shows how folklore practices can provide an opportunity for celebration and socializing.