Iowa State Traditions
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Iowa State Traditions

Old and new traditions that Iowa State has celebrated over the years.

Iowa State Traditions
College and Young Democrats of Iowa

Tradition: "A way of thinking, behaving or doing something that has been used by the people in a particular group, family, society, etc., for a long time; the stories, beliefs, etc., that have been part of the culture of a group of people for a long time." Iowa Staters take these traditions seriously, and there are many more, but check out these 10 and be on the look out for more Iowa State traditions.

1. Campaniling

A student officially becomes an Iowa Stater when he or she is kissed under the campanile at the stroke of midnight.

2. Greek Week

Greek Week is a 63-year tradition in which members of the Greek Community participate in Lip Sync, Tournaments, Greek Olympics and Polar Bear Plunge!

3. Homecoming

Alumni began returning home for an official homecoming in 1912. The celebration continues with events including tailgates, fireworks, lawn displays, Yell Like Hell and mass campaniling.

4. Lancelot and Elaine

Lancelot and Elaine were first brought to Lake LaVerne in VEISHEA of 1935. The home of these swans was created by an alumni of the university. The tradition is if you walk around Lake LaVerne three times in silence with your beloved, you are destined to be together.

5. The Zodiac

For more than 70 years, students have walked around The Zodiac with the belief that if you don't, you will flunk your next exam. The bad luck can disappear by throwing a coin into the Fountain of Four Seasons directly outside the door.


VEISHEA was a festival, started in 1922, that celebrated the original colleges at Iowa State: Veterinary Medicine, Engineering, Industrial Science, Home Economics and Agriculture. The traditions included student musical performances, canoe races, a parade and cherry pies. This tradition was a top leadership opportunity for more than 90 years, but was permanently cancelled in 2014 following a riot. Hopefully, someday this awesome tradition can continue.

7. The University Mace

This tradition was born when the presidential mace was created to be carried at commencement ceremonies. "The mace signifies the dignity and special nature of the commencement ceremony," said ISU President Gregory L. Geoffroy. "Commencement is a very special time in the life of an individual, a transition point when they leave behind the life of a student and enter their chosen professions." The University Mace was first used in the Spring Commencement of May 2004.

8. Hilton Magic

This term was first coined by Des Moines Register writer Buck Turnbull on February 14, 1989. Hilton Magic is the power of the Coliseum faithful to produce unexpected victories. The term has continued throughout the years to present day, and even has become a trending topic on Twitter. #HiltonMagic

9. "Sweet Caroline"

Check out this video:

Iowa State fans sing "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond in between the third and fourth quarters of football games when the Cyclones are ahead, and after significant victories.

10. Cy the Cardinal

In 1954, it was decided that Iowa State needed a mascot to symbolize the spirit of the athletic teams. A cyclone was too difficult to depict in a costume, so a cardinal was selected from the cardinal and gold of the official school colors. A contest was ran to select a name for the mascot, and the winning entry was Cy. Over the last 50+ years, Cy has undergone several makeovers, redesigns and life changes.

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