Dorm rooms and hallways were filled with speculation about Mountain Day as September drew to a close. Would tomorrow be the morning we woke to hear the chapel bells chiming, signaling our day of recreation?
According to Mount Holyoke College legend*, Mountain Day was started by a few students who woke one morning to an absolutely dazzling day. They just simply couldn’t bear to attend classes when the sunshine was so spectacular and weather so pleasant. They skipped school that day to hike to the top of Skinner Mountain, basking in the glory of nature. The following year they did it again, and this time they were joined by more students. The tradition continued until the college was forced to recognize it as a holiday because the classrooms were nearly empty. So Mountain day was born, the day when classes are cancelled, exams re-scheduled, and the campus virtually shuts down until sunset.
Every year, we watched the weather reports, knowing the college president wouldn’t dare to pick an overcast or rainy day. And it had to be before the start of hunting season because it just wouldn’t be safe to send a legion of young women into the wilds of Skinner State Park during hunting season. We debated about how much work we should do for the next day, bargained how late we could go to bed, and eagerly made plans for our day of freedom. Rising early to hike or catching up on much-needed sleep, paper bag lunch from the kitchen or ladies’ day in Northampton, shelving textbooks or getting (further) ahead on assignments. Whatever students decided, one thing was always included in the day’s plans- cider and donuts at Atkins Farm.
There always came a point when Mountain Day dominated dining hall conversation. Finally, when it seemed that maybe the college president wouldn’t actually announce Mountain Day that year, the chapel bells would chime.
Dedicated to all my MoHo sisters. Happy Mountain Day!