May Day


Saturday, May 2, 2020

An important part of graduation weekend is the May Day ceremony, one of Bluffton’s oldest traditions, which began in 1910. It intertwines the past with alumni reunions, the present by honoring this year's graduates, and the future when honored first-year students perform the traditional Maypole dance. 

Activities include a May Day 5k and Campus Walk and the May Day Musical. You are invited to participate in any and all May Day events.

THE BOX OFFICE  is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. and is located at the Information Desk in Marbeck Center, or purchase tickets for meals, the musical and register for the May Day 5k and Campus Walk online at

Participation in the May Day Ceremony is required for graduating seniors.
Only those involved in a Bluffton University athletic event are excused. Suggested attire for May Day: Students should dress in nice spring attire; dress pants, shirts, ties, dresses are all great; jeans and shorts and tshirts/sweatshirts are discouraged. If the weather is cold, please wear a sweater or jacket.

Graduating seniors:
11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Lunch in The Commons (optional)

1 p.m. – Graduating seniors report to Stutzman Lecture Hall to line up
1:30 p.m. – May Day ceremony, Centennial Lawn
2:30 p.m. – Graduates and families are invited to celebrate with faculty and staff and enjoy graduation cake, Centennial Lawn 


Visit the Bluffton University bookstore each day until 5 p.m.
  9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Annual Juried Student Exhibition, Sauder Visual Arts Center
  4 p.m. Class of '70 reception and dinner, Marbeck Center
  4:30 p.m. Class of '80 reception and dinner, Sommer Center
  7:30 p.m. May Day Musical, HONK!, Yoder Recital Hall
  7 a.m. Check-in and registration for May Day 5k and Campus Walk, Sommer Center
  8 a.m. May Day 5k and Campus Walk, Sommer Center
  8:45 a.m. Post-race cool down yoga provided by the Bluffton Family Recreation Center, Sommer Center
  9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Annual Juried Student Exhibition, Sauder Visual Arts Center
  9:30 a.m. Alumni choir sing/Student honors recital, Yoder Hall
  9:30 - 11:30 a.m. Guided campus tours leave every 30 minutes from Marbeck Center's Kiva
  10:30 - 11:15 a.m. Music Department reception, Mosiman Hall
  11:30 a.m-1 p.m. Lunch for graduates, alumni, families and friends, The Commons, Marbeck Center, $7 per person
  1:30 p.m. May Day Ceremony, Centennial lawn
  2:30 p.m. Student Involvement Reception, Bob's Place
  2:30 p.m. Ultimate Frisbee, Alumni Field
  2:30 - 4:30 p.m. Guided campus tours leave every 30 minutes from Marbeck Center's Kiva
  2:30 - 4:30 p.m. Science and mathematics reception for alumni and graduates/families - Shoker Science Center
  5:30 p.m. Pi Delta Society Banquet, The Commons
  7:30 p.m. May Day Musical, HONK!, Yoder Recital Hall


10:30 a.m.        Baccalaureate, Founders Hall
  11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Lunch buffet, The Commons, Marbeck Center
  1 - 5 p.m. Annual Juried Student Exhibition, Sauder Visual Arts Center
  2 p.m. Commencement, Sommer Center


Yoder Recital Hall
May 1-2 at 7:30 p.m.

In this family-friendly adaptation of the ugly duckling story, young Ugly encounters barnyard teasing, colorful characters and a very hungry cat as he discovers that being different isn't bad. 

This heartwarming show won the 2000 Olivier Award for Best Musical. Tickets can be purchased at or call 419-358-3239.

may day runMAY DAY 5K/WALK
A 5k and campus walk sponsored by the Bluffton University Alumni Association with support from Bluffton Hospital. Register early to reserve a t-shirt in your size. Medals awarded to top three finishers in each age/gender bracket. Trophies awarded to fastest male and fastest female. 

Sommer Center
7 a.m. - Check in and walk-up registration begins
8 a.m. - START 5k race and campus walk 
8:45 a.m. - Post-race cool down yoga provided by the Bluffton Family Recreation Center
9 a.m. - Medals and trophies awarded

This exhibit showcases work created by all Bluffton University students in the arts programs in a variety of mediums including ceramics, drawing, painting, photography, printmaking and sculpture.

Grace Albrecht Gallery, Sauder Visual Arts Center
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A highlight of May Day is when former Bluffton choir/chorale members gather and revisit their favorite choral pieces. We will intersperse some solo performance pieces by our best music students. A reception follows in the Gilliom Room. The alumni choir will gather again to sing "The Lord Bless You and Keep You" to close the May Day ceremony.


Come and reminisce. Reconnect with your classmates, renew friendships and celebrate Bluffton!
Adult lunches $15, Children 10 and under $8

The Commons, Marbeck Center 
11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Tickets available online and at the door

This event celebrates the end of an academic year, the beginning of a new chapter for graduates and the remembrance of times past for alumni. It includes the colorful Maypole dance performed by first-year students, crowning of the queen and king and recognition of graduating seniors.
Centennial Lawn
1:30 p.m.


The 2018 Pi Delta Annual Banquet will be held in the Commons at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, May 5.



may day


Bluffton students, parents and alumni celebrate May Day each year on an early May weekend. This celebration includes alumni reunions, graduation events and student activities.

The May Day tradition at Bluffton University dates back to 1910 and continues to feature the Maypole dance, perhaps the most spectacular event of the weekend.

Each year, 16 first-year students, eight men and eight women, are chosen to dance the Maypole dance. The dance takes place around a large pole. The dancers, wearing colorful, Germanic-style costumes, encircle the pole. Then each couple in turn grabs two streamers that are hung from the top of the pole. The dancers proceed to weave the streamers around the pole. When the dancers have wound their streamers part way down the pole, the weaving stops and each couple is reunited.

m dance May Day celebrations were once popular across the United States at many colleges and universities. However, they are now rare.

May Day celebrations date back to 238 B.C. in Rome. The Roman holiday was a celebration of the goddess Flora and the coming of spring. In England, May Day was a celebration of flowers and the coming of spring after a cold winter. The May Day dance represented the joy of the coming of spring and the streamers represented the rays of the sun.

At Bluffton the May Day celebration represents the end of a school year for students, the beginning of a new chapter for seniors and the remembrance of times past for alumni. The tradition weaves together past, present and future around the Maypole in a never-ending circle.
Watch the Maypole dance
May Day schedule