The basics of Homecoming and its significance in American culture

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By Aminah Koshul

It’s late October and Homecoming festivities are almost upon us. School spirit is at an all-time high as students and alumni gather to exhibit some Illini pride.

For many, the concept of Homecoming is a familiar one because it is an enduring tradition of American high schools. For others, however, Homecoming is a strange and unfamiliar word that holds little meaning.

Homecoming is the tradition of welcoming alumni back to campus. It takes place in the fall and is often centered around specific events such as a football game.

The University prides itself on over 100 years of Homecoming traditions. This year, a wide range of cultural and sports-related events will be held from Oct. 18 to 25.

One of the simplest and most common ways to celebrate Homecoming is by wearing Illini gear. Participating in Wear Orange Wednesday, for example, is one way of demonstrating school spirit. An added bonus is that you’ll earn discounts from local businesses.

Speaking of local businesses, one of the best ways to experience Homecoming and abate nostalgia is by visiting restaurants on Green Street.

Alumni can take advantage of the fact that Homecoming is one of the few times during the year in which Green Street takes on a relatively family-oriented atmosphere by enjoying a nice lunch or dinner with their children.

It’s also possible to participate in Homecoming events on a much larger scale. The pep rally and parade are two events that exemplify the spirit of Homecoming by leading up to the football game with a festive atmosphere. Both include guest speakers as well as memorable performances, and are a must-see for anyone looking to engage in some lllini pride.

Homecoming creates an extremely social and welcoming atmosphere, which is exemplified by the various cookouts and tailgating parties held around Memorial Stadium. People meet up with old friends and make new ones in the spirit of sportsmanship.

The great thing about Homecoming is that it has a little something for everyone. If the loud, large-scale events aren’t of interest to you, there are a number of quieter, more artsy events to look forward to. For instance, the Illini Union Art Gallery will host an exhibit, and Krannert Center for the Performing Arts will be giving free tours throughout the week that provide a sneak peek at the production process behind their performances.

A number of colleges will hold Homecoming celebrations specifically for their alumni as well.

It’s important to bear in mind that Homecoming does not take place in isolated events. It is the campus-wide celebration of alumni revisiting the University. Students should strive to partake in Homecoming events, which are usually free of charge or relatively cheap, so that they’ll have a basis for comparison when they revisit the campus years later as an alumnus.

Essentially, Homecoming is the ideal time to reflect on old memories and create new ones.

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