From Lavaliering to Pin Presentation

In Greek fraternities (often referred to as “Greek Life”) in the USA, there is a tradition called “lavaliering”. This tradition originates in the French term “lavallière,” which originally referred to a specific type of neck jewelry (a type of pendant). In the context of Greek fraternities, however, “lavaliering” means something different and is a symbolic gesture in romantic relationships within the fraternities.


Lavalliering is a ceremony or ritual in which a male member of a fraternity presents his girlfriend with a special piece of jewelry (a necklace or pendant) that bears the letters of his fraternity. This gesture symbolizes a serious relationship and often the intention to take the relationship to the next level. It is an honor and a sign of respect and affection.

Candle Passing

Candle passing is another tradition that is often associated with lavaliering. The lavalier pledge must be kept a secret by the female until the candle tradition is held by her sorority house. In this ceremony, a candle is passed around the circle. Each woman is allowed to hold the candle and pass it around until it reaches a specific person, who then reveals the secret.


Pinning is a similar ritual to lavaliering, but it goes one step further. Here, the male member of the fraternity presents his girlfriend with his fraternity pin (a badge or pin symbolizing affiliation with the fraternity). This gesture is even more symbolic than the lavalier and is often seen as a precursor to the betrothal.


The connection between these traditions lies in their symbolic meaning and their place within the rituals and customs of Greek fraternities:

  • Lavaliering: Symbolizes a serious relationship and is often expressed through a chain with the fraternity’s letters.
  • Candle Giving: Commonly used to announce pledging or other important personal events in a sorority.
  • Pin Presentation: An even deeper commitment than pledging, often a step toward pledging.

Change and adaptation

Over the past few decades, Greek sorority traditions and rituals have evolved. Some fraternities have maintained these traditions and continue to cherish them as important parts of their culture. Other fraternities may have introduced new rituals or adapted existing ones to better fit the modern views and values of their members.

Influence of social and cultural changes

The influence of social and cultural changes has also played a role in how these traditions are practiced today. For example, changes in perceptions of gender roles and relationships may have led to some of these traditions being de-emphasized or changed in their execution.

While lavalliers, candle presentation and pin presentation continue to be practiced in many Greek fraternities, their prevalence and importance varies by fraternity and campus. These traditions remain important symbols of community and personal relationships within fraternities, even as they have adapted to new cultural and social contexts over time.

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