Every year, as an iconic tradition of BYU Homecoming week, hundreds of students make the exhausting climb, lightbulbs in hand, and light up Y Mountain. However, it was not always so simple.
According to the BYU website, the tradition began in 1924 when students “set fire to oil-soaked mattress stuffing around the perimeter of the letter, and then marched back down the trail carrying torches.”
Laura Smith, a junior studying public relations and member of the Student Alumni board, reflected on her experience with over 900 other students lighting the Y last year.
“Every year I look forward to lighting the Y on the mountain,” Smith said. “The Y on the mountain is an iconic part of the BYU experience, so seeing it lit up at night during homecoming reminds us of the pride we feel at being a part of this community.”
Lighting the Y is not the only homecoming activity students have to look forward to this year. Themed “Of Pillars and Cornerstones,” the celebration includes lectures, parades, dances, a BYU vs. Oregon State football game and also highlights the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Karl G. Maeser building.
The theme pays tribute not only to the architectural aesthetic of the building, referencing its neoclassical pillars and prominent place on campus, but also how those features represent BYU ideals of scholarship, integrity and faith.
Editorial chair of the BYU Alumni Board, Charlene Winters, talked about the symbolism of the Maeser Building on BYU campus.
“At the time it was built it represented the hope of the future for the university,” Winter said. “Today it stands as a silent sentinel and evidence of the realization of those dreams that BYU would become the site for temples of learning.”
The Homecoming week opening ceremonies begin Tuesday, Oct. 9 with a campus devotional, and throughout the week students and alumni are invited to participate in campus lectures in various locations, noon day activities and barbecues in Brigham Square.
True Blue Football, a popular student event filled with blue foam slip and slides, begins at 4 p.m. on Wednesday at Helaman Halls. The event allows students to show school spirit and brings to life the old LDS adage of President Joseph F. Smith professing his faith, “Yes siree, I am dyed in the wool, true blue, through and through.”
Following years of tradition, festivities will end with the annual Homecoming Parade, Saturday at 10 a.m., beginning at the Marriott Center and wrapping around the south end of campus. Later that afternoon, BYU football players and fans will blackout LaVell Edwards Stadium with the reveal of the new all black uniforms, in the game against Oregon State.
Ellie Ott, Vice President of Traditions for BYU’s Student Alumni Association and a sophomore majoring in civil engineering from Holiday, said homecoming week allows students to feel like they are a part of BYU.
“This is just a great time of year,” Ott said. “It’s a time when students and alumni come together and it gives everyone a chance to get involved. Its during homecoming week that I think students really start to feel invested in the school and feel like they belong here. It’s neat to see.”