National Prom Day on March 31 is celebrated to honor the ultimate high school experience of a typical American teenager — prom night. As we walk down memory lane and remember the tuxedos, corsages, the friendly limo driver, and the sentimental parents wiping away tears, let’s also take a moment to remember the friendship, the joy, and the excitement of that unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime event. To honor our memories of prom, PromGirl established National Prom Day in 2016.
History of National Prom Day
Prom originated as a collegiate co-ed event to foster etiquette amongst a brand new cohort of university graduates. The earliest mention of the event can be found in the diary of an Amherst College student, who journaled about his prom experience at the neighboring university. As the decades passed, the event was celebrated by high school students. By the 1930s, high schools across the country began marking the end of the year with some kind of celebration, be it a Spring Fling, or a formal.
The changing waters of a progressing society began reflecting in prom, as the event moved to nighttime and upgraded to a more lavish setting. But it wasn’t until the 1950s when prom reached its peak. As the blossoming post-war economy and the golden era of Hollywood penetrated the American psyche, its effects were reflected in this annual celebration as well. Parents began bankrolling their kids’ proms and year-end celebrations became an attraction point of public schools in the U.S.
After a brief slump following the Vietnam War, prom nights were reintroduced into the cultural limelight with numerous depictions being featured in movies.
In today’s day and age, prom is a milestone that a high school kid crosses to enter the “real world.” To commemorate this unique event, PromGirl, a teen fashion and prom outfit brand, established National Prom Day in 2016. In its inaugural year, PromGirl partnered with Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), an organization that educates kids about traffic safety, depression, bullying, and substance abuse.
In the following years, PromGirl has joined hands with The Garden of Dreams and many other youth-focused non-profits. The intention behind creating this holiday is to honor the transformative experience of prom and to raise awareness about the struggles encumbering the American youth.
National Prom Day timeline
The Harvard Crimson mentions a night of formal dresses and dancing at a promenade concert, making one of the earliest literary references to prom night.
Prom gains immense popularity throughout the country, and the collegiate affair starts being celebrated by high school seniors.
Pop culture exemplifies the relevance of prom night, and prom-themed movies like “Mean Girls,” “Pretty in Pink,” and “She’s All That” become cult classics.
Teen fashion store PromGirl establishes National Prom Day to celebrate decades of prom traditions and to raise money for causes.
National Prom Day FAQs
Where does the word ‘prom’ come from?
The word prom is short for the French word ‘promenade’, which translates to a short, leisurely walk that young people did at their debutante ball.
Is it necessary to bring a date to prom?
Absolutely not! Bringing a date has always been optional. You can attend the night with your friends or close acquaintances. You can also go solo and have the chance to mingle with the crowd.
What is the traditional dress code for prom?
Traditionally, boys wear a three-piece suit with a bow, and girls wear an evening gown with a corsage that matches the boutonnières worn on the lapels by their dates.
National Prom Day Activities
Post a throwback
The good thing about the universality of our high school experience is that all of us have memories of prom night. Bask in the nostalgia of satin dresses, perfectly styled hair, and fun after-parties as you dig out the best photographs of the evening. Ring up your high school friends and share the joy of National Prom Day.
Donate a dress/suit
There are thousands of seniors who rely on thrift shopping and shortchanges for prom. The best way to celebrate the day is to extend your means to those in need. Not only will you make their evening memorable, but you will also become a part of their memories forever.
Host a community prom
This year, go all the way and host a prom within your community. Bring your neighbors, friends, and family together for a night of nostalgia, polaroids, and finger fruits. To give it the prom-esque vibe, enlist a formal dress code.
5 Stunning Depictions Of Prom In Pop Culture
Stephen King’s supernatural saga brought teenage angst to the center stage and reignited the thrill for prom across America.
“She’s All That” (1999)
We love a makeover montage, especially if Freddie Prinze Jr. is piloting it — this movie broke box office records and has one of the best prom-esque climaxes of all time.
10 Things I Hate About You” (1999)
As the protagonist attempts to “tame the shrew,” the movie paints the perfect picture of the duality of prom culture in our society.
As prom began to lose steam in the U.S., “Footloose” swept in and made teenagers fall in love with this tradition all over again.
“Mean Girls” (2004)
When it comes to prom in pop culture, one of the biggest cult classics, “Mean Girls,” perfected the landing.
Why We Love National Prom Day
It brings back the memories
Prom week is a treasure of memories that everyone reminiscences about. From picking out your dress to the epic after-party celebration, these unforgettable moments have a special place in our lives. On March 31, we reflect on the good times.
It’s for a good cause
PromGirl, the founding organization of National Prom Day, works with youth charities like the Garden of Dreams Foundation to raise awareness about the obstacles faced by children. The organization also donates clothes to children and offers critical help to teenagers in need.
It marks the change in traditions
For centuries, heteronormative narratives have dominated prom night. But modern-day prom celebrations have been thoroughly adaptive to the changing times. From same-sex couples to gender-neutral dressing, National Prom Day honors the change and pledges support to the marginalized youth.
National Prom Day dates