March 28, 2023
Nichelle Trulove -- Lauren Solis, Sarah Sabesky, Evelyn Perea, Ruthie Ceausu, Courtney Upshaw and Karyn LoPresti gather around the Fortuna Fountain to re-enact photo from the 1960s.

Engagements, a calf and birdbaths all played a significant role in California Baptist College’s past. Traditions started long ago continue to connect to the future for California Baptist University students. The legacy of many rituals and traditions live on, even if just in memory.

Started in the 1960s, the first and most revered tradition and ritual that branded CBU in a way that still lives on is the candle lighting ceremony. This CBC/CBU tradition began in the 1960 fall semester.

Originally brought to CBC by way of another school, history was made. A legacy of newly engaged women were forever remembered through rumors and myths surrounding the rite of passage to newly engaged women attending CBC.

A newly engaged girl, who told the dorm mother and expressed who she wanted to invite to the ceremony, initiated the candle lighting ceremony. The dorm mother then sent out secret invitations to those requested to attend and they went to the Fortuna Fountain in their nicest attire to eagerly await the announcement.

Toni Dingman, assistant professor of English, attended CBC and remembers being invited to candle lighting ceremonies around Fortuna.

“It was an honor to be invited. It was like a coming out party to those who were engaged, announcing to the world they were now official,” Dingman said.

Vi Estel, CBU archivist and CBC alumna, also has fond memories of candle lighting ceremonies. She was among the first class that instated the tradition. It was a significant memory for her time at CBC.

“It was a formal occasion. Girls would get dressed up,” Estel said.

The men were also involved. As invited guests passed around a lit candle while encompassing Fortuna, they eagerly waited to see who blew out the candle to signify a new engagement. The men stood on the sidelines for their part in the ritual. After the engaged woman blew out the candle, her fiance was picked up by his friends and tossed into Fortuna.

This ritual and tradition lived on for many years. On the Facebook page for Fortuna, many couples that have experienced this tradition leave comments about their time when they too, became part of this deep tradition.

Jessica Hankins, CBC alumna, left a message on Fortuna’s Facebook page about her memories of the fountain and her engagement.

“I stopped by to visit the other night and waved hello! What fond memories of my candle lighting way back in 1997,” Hankins said.

Recently, over Homecoming weekend, alumni couple Annette and David Morton stopped by Fortuna to reminisce about their candle lighting ceremony, which took place more than 27 years ago.

Over the years, this tradition has intermittently lived on as newly engaged students wanted to reinstate this tradition, yet it mostly lives on today in memories and CBU folklore.

Other traditions at CBU and CBC involved birdbaths and a calf. According to Dingman, it was common practice for male students to pick up birdbaths around campus and place them inside classrooms before lectures began. Estel recalls when a male student took a calf from CBC’s on-campus farm and placed it inside the elevator in the James Building.

“We thought he got away with it, but when I saw him many years later, he told us he was fined and received academic probation for it,” Estel said.

Other traditions include Yule and The Woman Is Required to Pay, which still live on today. However, TWIRP was a big deal when it became a tradition.

“It was a big deal for women to begin asking out men. At that time, especially for CBC culture, this wasn’t the norm. It was terrifying for women,” Dingman said.

As these traditions and rituals live on in memory, new traditions are made. Each year, CBU students participate in choir, International Service Projects, United States Projects and much more, which are important rites of passage for both male and female students. With the recent popularity of the YouTube video sensation “Stuff CBU Girls Say,” the old resides with the new as Fortuna was featured, and the actor acted out comedic myths about fertility and stereotypes about choirgirls.

Regardless, today’s students will look back on the fondness of CBU as our predecessors have and continue a legacy created to thrive.

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