Timeless traditions

Tar Heel icons

Take a sip from the Old Well on your first day of classes to get good grades. Sign your name on the bricks inside the Bell Tower as a senior. Relax in the sun on Polk Place. Carolina is filled with traditions - some that date back for decades and others that are new - that students cherish today.

Stories behind the legends

Learn more about the stories behind some of Carolina's more iconic symbols.

  • Rameses with his horns painted blue

    The legend of Rameses


    Rameses, a Horned Dorset sheep, and his ancestors have been entertaining Tar Heel fans since 1924. The Rameses that graces Kenan Memorial Stadium today is the latest in a long line of celebrated ovine royalty. But every royal family has its secrets.

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  • Students drink from the Old Well.

    Old Well magic


    Few places signify Carolina like the Old Well and few occasions bring as much excitement to the campus landmark as the first day of class. A decades-old tradition says a drink from the Old Well before a student’s first class of the semester can bring good luck in the form of good grades, even a 4.0.

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  • Ramses paints a black wall.

    Arts Everywhere Day


    Each spring, the arts come alive at Carolina and take over the campus. Arts Everywhere Day is a campus-wide celebration with performances by student groups, exhibits, installations and hands-on activities. The celebration is part of the University’s larger Arts Everywhere initiative, which seeks to transform campus spaces into creative hubs where anyone and everyone can engage with the arts in diverse ways.

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Carolina traditions

  • Maintaining a Carolina icon

    When Carolina first opened, the University’s well served as the primary source of drinking and bathing water for the students, faculty and staff. The current well — what we now call the Old Well — was constructed in 1954 using wooden columns, a marble base and copper roof.

  • Senior Bell Tower Climb

    During Senior Week every year, members of the senior class hike up the 128 steps inside the bell tower to sign their name on bricks. The UNC General Alumni Association has been hosting the event since 2003.

  • Carolina’s ‘accidentally secret’ student society

    Founded in 1795, the Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies are the oldest organizations at Carolina. Once a requirement for all Carolina students, the societies have maintained a tradition of lively debate over current issues that range from politics to pop culture.