Traditions and Terrapins

umd testudo in front of mckeldinAs some of you may be aware, the University of Maryland holds a deep affinity for its mascot, Testudo.

Testudo is a Diamondback terrapin, but we all affectionately call him a turtle, and warn others to fear him (Fear the Turtle is something of our battle cry). testudo mascotThere is a whole history regarding UMD’s relationship with Testudo, which you can find HERE, but all you really need to know is the major Maryland tradition that Testudo plays a crucial role in.

Before I can explain that tradition, I have some bad news to share. You may believe that the four leaf clover you found as a kid was lucky, or that heads up penny you rescued from the grimy Metro floor, but for true luck, you need to visit College Park, MD and rub Testudo’s nose.

testudo overlooking mallThere’s a statue of Testudo sitting in front of McKeldin Library at the head of our mall and a couple more statues strategically located around campus. When students are in need of some luck or self-confidence, they run for Testudo and rub his nose until it’s good and shiny (which it already is after years of use by desperate students). Before finals, people will leave him offerings in hopes of increasing their favor in his eyes. What Testudo would want with cups of coffee and sugary treats, I’m not really sure, but I know he loves the attention.

The bottles of alcohol are never there for long...

The bottles of alcohol are never there for long…

When tours pass by UMD the potential Terps are encouraged to rub Testudo’s nose, just as the students around campus do. I always imagined myself as too cool for this silly tradition, but how ridiculous is that?! I absolutely LOVE that I’m somewhere that celebrates both history and community, and since I’ve arrived and gotten over my big head and my embarrassment,  I’ve rubbed Testudo’s nose like there was no tomorrow and can personally attest to his powers since I’ve had the best luck and the most fun while attending college.

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