The Bethany community has a long history of spirited traditions, which continue to be practiced today.
Since 1903, when the “Terrible Swedes” were feared and respected by all gridiron opponents, students and alumni have rallied Bethany athletic competition with this cheer, yelled in Swedish and based on Swedish mythology. The chant, and its rough translation, is:
(The jarl wore a jacket or coat – rockar – and was on a log raft – stockar – braving the perils of the Baltic.)
THOR OCH HANS BOCKAR!
(Thor going ever forward with lightning speed, from pinnacle to pinnacle, driving his irresistible thunderbolts through all opposition.)
KOR IGENOM! KOR IGENOM!
(Hit that line! Hit that line!)
TJO! TJO! TJO!
(A Swedish interjection.)
Messiah Festival of the Arts
Every year since 1882, the Bethany Oratorio Society has presented Handel’s Messiah at the college – the longest-running annual performances in North America. The society has performed Messiah across the plains, in Carnegie Hall and on national television. Now, Messiah is performed Palm and Easter Sundays, and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion is performed on Good Friday. The festival also includes art exhibitions, theatre performances and ensemble concerts.
Walk from Bethany Lutheran Church
In honor of its founding in the sacristy of Bethany Lutheran Church, students traditionally walk to the church for a welcome service on their first day at Bethany as freshmen. Then, before baccalaureate services on the day of their commencement, Bethany seniors line up in front of Bethany Lutheran Church for a traditional procession to Presser Hall on campus.
Ringing of the bell
When a Swedes athletics team wins conference, they gather in front of Hahn Gymnasium to ring the bell and spread the news to the rest of the campus, regardless of what time of day – or night – it may be.
Lift High the Cross
Each year during Homecoming week, Bethany students celebrate the college’s heritage of faith by lifting high a wooden cross in the gazebo. Students sign up for shifts so that the cross is held high during every hour of the week.
The number of feet out that the fence is for a home run in Anderson Stadium, 352 is also the place all Swedes baseball fans gather to cheer.