December 24 Through January 2 – A Busy Time in Fraternity and Sorority History

It’s hard for today’s collegians to contemplate spending December 24 through January 2 on campus. Most higher education institutions shut down for the holiday week. However, that week has been a significant one in the history of Greek-letter organizations.

Delta Gamma was founded over the Christmas holiday in 1873 when three young women were stranded at the Lewis School due to inclement weather. Alpha Omicron Pi began on January 2, 1897. Delta Gamma celebrates Founders’ Day on March 15, the date of Eta Chapter’s founding at Akron University. It is Delta Gamma’s oldest continuous chapter. Alpha Omicron Pi celebrates on or around December 8, founder Stella George Stern Perry’s birthday.

Chi Phi traces its history to the Chi Phi Society established on December 24, 1824 by Robert Baird at the College of New Jersey (later known as Princeton University). Phi Delta Theta, one of the Miami Triad was founded on December 26, 1848. Its Founders’ Day is celebrated on March 15, the birth date of founder Robert Morrison.

Zeta Beta Tau was created on December 29, 1898 when a group of young men attending several New York universities met at the Jewish Theological Seminary and formed an organization called ZBT. Sigma Nu became a Greek-letter organization on January 1, 1869. It was founded at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia by three young men who were opposed to the hazing that was a part of a cadet’s life at VMI. Delta Tau Delta celebrates its 155th anniversary on January 1. It was founded at Bethany College in 1858.

It is also hard to believe that any organization would plan a convention during the holiday season, but I know of several that occurred at that time. A convention that took place in Troy, New York from December 26-28, 1931, resulted in the creation of Phi Iota Alpha, the oldest Latino fraternity still in existence.

One of Pi Beta Phi’s conventions started in 1907 and ended in 1908. It took place in New Orleans over New Year’s Eve. Phi Gamma Delta held an Ekklesia that took place from December 31 through January 3, 1925 in Richmond, Virginia; there were 374 registrants. Another Ekklesia took place from December 29, 1933 through January 1, 1934 in Washington, D.C. Phi Gam held several Ekklesiai in the week between Christmas and New Year’s; these took place in 1916, 1917, 1920 and 1921.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who read these posts. May you have a wonderful 2013!

*For the first several hours that this post was up, it contained a typo. I thank the reader who alerted me to it. I had typed Alpha Delta Pi when it should have been Alpha Delta Phi. Alpha Delta Pi is a women’s organization that belongs to the National Panhellenic Conference. For a very short time, it was known as Alpha Delta Phi and that is a story chronicled in another post Hamilton College was an all-male institution when Alpha Delta Phi was founded there.

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