Tea, Anyone?

On a dark, rainy Friday afternoon in April, Moravian College revived a cheering tradition of the pre-merger women’s college: afternoon tea. More than 90 women from three College generations gathered in the Victorian parlors, rarely seen, graced with period furniture and ornaments and normally closed to the public.

Before the 1954 merger of the men’s and women’s colleges, the Young Women’s Christian Association of Moravian College for Women held weekly teas to “brighten up the darker days” of winter. In those days, the dean of the women’s college claimed the position of honor and poured the tea. Olivia Musselman Barnes ’38 recalls: “I remember tea in the Blue Parlors. It always marked a special occasion. I am sure that I was not the only one who had never had ‘tea’ before. I remember the difficulty of juggling the teacup and the napkin and the snacks.”

The revival was sponsored by Moravian Academic Women. “College life often revolves around traditions,” said Carol Traupman-Carr ’86, associate dean for academic affairs. “Afternoon tea gives us the chance to create more mentoring possibilities between female students and women on the faculty and in the administration.”

Afternoon tea will henceforth become a once-a-semester tradition at Moravian.

Visiting assistant professor of music Hilde Binford, student Emily Ralph ’04, and assistant alumni director Kristen Orgera enjoyed “the cup that cheers” in Main Hall.

Photo: Suzanne Creelman ’03