The Day of the Bear

by Joseph Lipham, Student Assistant

Here’s a photograph of President W. R. White, celebrating with students in 1958. Found in General Photo Files, Accession #3976.

Following the tragic death of Baylor President Samuel Palmer Brooks in 1931, the newly elected Pat Morris Neff inherited a rather difficult situation. After the United States Stock Market crashed in 1929, crippling the American economy, President Neff came into his presidency during the Great Depression. By 1932, the face of Baylor was covered in signs of the Depression. Students were not immune to the financial shockwave that the Great Depression sent throughout all of America. President Neff, seeing the falling enrollment rates and a nation turning apathetic towards college, declared an annual one day reprieve from classes, so as to enhance the overall student experience. Initially titled “All-University Day”, this day off was meant to provide students with a reprieve from both academic and financial burdens that tended to become more cumbersome towards the latter half of the semester.

On May 11, 1932, nearly 800 Baylor students boarded buses bound for Silver Lake where they enjoyed day long festivities such as barbecue, baseball, swimming and the main event: a friendly tug-o-war between the university freshmen and sophomores. Seeing the joy that these events brought to the entirety of the student body, Baylor faculty agreed to continue this annual reprieve for students, so long as the students demonstrated a remaining interest in the festivities.

Within the following years, All-University Day began to grow rather rapidly and the event was soon turned over to Baylor’s Chamber of Commerce in 1935, who would assume the duties of planning the festivities. With the help of Chamber, by 1937, All-University Day consisted of nearly 99 events ranging from leapfrog to donkey racing. Although the school wide day of fun remained constant, the event changed names several times; from All-University Day to Physical Fitness Day to May Day, which stuck until 1966.

During the early half of the 1966 spring semester, a campus wide competition was held to rename the beloved school-wide holiday. After ideas from students for a new name had been selected, the entirety of the student body voted upon the name they wished to call the holiday. “Diadeloso”, Spanish for “Day of the Bear” was the name selected by the Baylor student body. Diadeloso has become a Baylor tradition, and nearly 86 years later it continues to be celebrated by students and faculty alike.

Students celebrating Diadeloso in 1973. Found in General Photo Files, Accession #3976.

Current Dia events range from concerts to goat yoga. Although current students may not experience the same hardships as Baylor students from 1932, the tradition ignited by Pat Neff still warms the hearts of all students.

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