Tradition: Have a Great Summer!


Explanation: Have a Great Summer (H.A.G.S.) written in a yearbook.


Informant: “Literally from like 3rd to 9th grade, all I wrote in people’s yearbooks was ‘H.A.G.S.’. And that’s what they wrote in mine too.”


Across American K-12 schools, H.A.G.S is a common acronym written in annual yearbooks that are usually given out to students right before the end of a school year and the beginning of summer. H.A.G.S. stands for ‘Have a Great Summer’ and is a common way to casually wish fellow classmates a good summer without having to write out lengthy messages. Traditionally, the acronym is commonly followed by other popular cultural symbols such as a ‘text heart’ <3 or a smiley face :).

Yearbooks have been a popular symbol in American school culture since the late 19th century with the practice of signing yearbooks having strong cultural significance. Obviously the format and value of yearbooks have evolved since then but the societal relevance have still remained the same. The signing of the yearbook is a key part of that experience that usually occurs at key milestones such as graduation, class parties, and the like. Students sign both their friends’ yearbooks as well as general classmates and peers. Friends traditionally write heartfelt messages to each other while peers/acquaintances tend to write more generic messages to each other such as ‘H.A.G.S’, ‘Good Luck’, and the like. The interesting nuance with H.A.G.S. is that it is not a naturally common acronym; however, it is one that can be found at schools across America.

Younger generations especially are quick to adapt to new technologies, language, and trends; H.A.G.S. is a great example of that. The newest generations especially love their abbreviations: ‘L.O.L’, ‘B.R.B., and the like are all common acronyms that were adopted by youth culture and that have spread broadly across the world. H.A.G.S is a significantly less common acronym; in fact, very few over the age of 50 would know what it stood for. However, its popularity with school-aged Americans shows how homologized youth culture is across the country and how much of the shared youth cultural experience and traditions happen across backgrounds and locations.