Spring has arrived here at Erskine! The weather is delightfully balmy, the pollen is driving numerous students into untimely sneezing fits, and the verdure of the outdoors irresistibly invites us to study in the beauty of the outdoors. On a typical spring day, it is common to see Erskine’s lawns, picnic tables, and swings sprinkled with students who, if they are anything like me, are basking in the warm weather and struggling with a somewhat contagious case of spring fever. Such a longing to abandon our textbooks in order to lie in the sun or read for fun must not yet be indulged, however, since exams will be upon us in exactly one week.
One defining characteristic of this spring season at Erskine, at least in my experience, is the deluge of candlelights which begins to shower down at about this time. “Whatever is a candlelight?” you may ask. At the risk of implying that Erskine is primarily an MRS-degree institution (which characterization would be terribly lacking), I will explain. The uniquely-Erskine tradition of the candlelight is the way students who get engaged during their time at Erskine announce the exciting news.
The night before the candlelight, one or two friends of the soon-to-be-bride (who are privy to the secret) hang posters inviting all Erskine ladies to the event. At the appointed hour (usually between eight and ten o’clock), a throng of girls forms a circle in front of Bonner, one of the women’s dorms on campus. We then sing a lilting, delicate tune that sounds somewhat like a lullaby and begins with the words, “Tell me why the ivy twines… tell me why the stars do shine.” (I realize this may sound cult-ish…but after all, it’s tradition. And it’s really quite fun!) A lighted candle is simultaneously passed around the circle, and when said candle gets to the engaged girl, she blows it out and is summarily doused with water. *Note to any Erskine males con
sidering engagement: try not to propose in the dead of winter.* The beaming gal then tells the entire circle the story of the proposal, and when she finishes, a crowd of squealing friends (we’re girls, all right?) rush in to carry her to the fountain in the middle of the grassy area known as “the circle” and “throw” her in. Pictures and best wishes ensue…and, well, there you have it. Spring at Erskine is usually accompanied by candlelights. How many college students can say that?