Kissing tradition goodbye: A new, less-intimate moon rises over the quad

Hundreds of students flocked to Main Quad on Saturday night for the official return of Full Moon On The Quad (FMOTQ) — a Stanford event so infamous it has its own Wikipedia page. Students of all class years and relationship statuses came out to the event with a range of emotions: confused, excited, cheerful and shy. 

The tradition, believed to have started in the 1940s, began as an event where senior men would give roses and kisses to freshmen girls at midnight on the first full moon of October. This moment would turn the freshman girl into a “Stanford woman,” according to an explanation from the Stanford archives. The event has since evolved, and now people of all class years, genders and sexual orientations exchange roses and kiss each other at midnight. 

ASSU Vice President Kyle Haslett ’25, who helped organize the event, said that the tradition “celebrates wackiness, spontaneity and fun.” According to Haslett, the event’s growth throughout the years symbolizes “what it means to come together as a group and to put down all of your inhibitions.”

This year’s rendition echoed many elements of previous years. Though there were no nude students in body paint, students clutched green, yellow and red glow sticks, each color representing whether they were open to kisses, hugs or nothing respectively. Delta Delta Delta sponsored this year’s hygiene table, handing out mints and other dental hygiene products to students. The 5-SURE table was also present and handed out snacks at the event. The Leland Stanford Junior Marching Band performed before midnight, under a clear sky with a full moon. 

There was just one thing missing from last night’s event: significant amounts of smooching between students. 

Even after midnight, the majority of attendees looked like they preferred to stand around and stick with the friend groups they came with, rather than mingle with strangers and embrace the spirit of the tradition. 

“I still have yet to see a lot of action in the crowd,” said Sarah Jacob ’25 around 12:17 a.m. The lack of action didn’t stop Jacob from enjoying herself at the event, however. “Being able to roll out with friends — I feel like that was really fun,” she said.

Other students just felt joy in the opportunity to wrap classmates and strangers alike in a friendly embrace. 

“I love giving hugs to people, so I’m giving them hugs,” Jaeah Kim ’25 said while holding a flower she received from another student. 

Because Saturday marked the first official FMOTQ since January 2020, it was also the first FMOTQ for many of the students who showed up that night. This was the case for Carl Zhang ’25, who said he felt that most of the energy of the event was geared towards sophomores and frosh. Still, Zhang made the most out of the night and even brought one red and one green lightsaber for other students to play with. According to Zhang, the colors of the lightsabers were supposed to mimic the red and green glow sticks organizers give out.

Emily Rodriguez ’26 also got to experience her first FMOTQ that night — not just as a student, but also as the Stanford Tree. “It’s a lot of fun. Everyone’s very enthusiastic,” Rodriguez said. 

In previous years, the Stanford Tree has tried to kiss as many people as possible in an effort to beat the record of the previous Tree. The number for Rodriguez to beat that night was 324, which was the record of Tree #42 Caroline Kushel ’21 M.A. ’22 — the last tree to attend an official FMOTQ. According to Rodriguez, she left that night with a count of 342.

Though there hasn’t been an official event since before the pandemic, last year, hundreds of students gathered in Main Quad for an unofficial FMOTQ. 

Maxwell Campbell ’25 attended that event last year with his friends and brought a pride flag with him. Campbell said he kissed a lot of people at last year’s event and remembers that experience as being very positive overall. 

While Campbell wasn’t sure about kissing other people last night, by contrast, he did appreciate the energy of the event. “I’m not exactly in the spirit, but my spirits are being lifted,” Campbell said. 

Some students earlier in the week expressed concern with the event being held the same weekend as Family Weekend. According to Haslett, organizers decided to hold the event later in the quarter, as opposed to earlier, as to better conduct the event. As for Family Weekend specifically?

“The moon rotates every four weeks and the phases continually change,” Haslett said. “And that, in combination with our orbit, has placed this full moon on Parent’s Weekend.”

Regardless of this coincidence, students were able to listen to live music and party with their peers at an event that has been awaiting an official return.