Tailcoat Week and Tailcoat Parade
The origin of Frackwoche goes back to the year 1925. Most students at that time came directly to the vocational college from the secondary schools and completed their studies at around 19 years of age. They wore beards and tailcoats to demonstrate their new membership of the adult world.
After the Tailcoat Week stopped being held during World War II, it didn't experience a renaissance until 1950. Since then, the beard wearers have declared themselves with a beard contract, making Tailcoat Week into more than just a fun time for the graduates.
Over time the idea developed in the Mechanical Engineering department to draw attention to themselves by driving through the Old Town of Winterthur with innovative and unusual vehicles in the so-called Tailcoat Parade. The wearing of tailcoats and beards has remained a custom to this day.
During Tailcoat Week in May and the Tailcoat Parade in July, the men of the graduating class do not just wear tailcoats, but also sport beards. For this purpose, the final shave is held in March, with this ritual taking place in line with tradition at the Fischerinnenbrunnen (Fisherwoman’s well) on the Winterthur Steinberggasse. The so-called beard contract requires that the beards grow for 100 days. No razors may be used until after the Tailcoat Parade on Technology Night at the beginning of July.
The school administration has meanwhile recognised Tailcoat Week, but has set a few rules to keep the festive activities within reasonable limits. Winterthur parties with regional bands and DJs as well as a bar service are held in the school buildings during Tailcoat Week.
Tailcoat Week is both a highlight for the graduates on completion of their studies and also for the undergraduates. The courses of study are distributed over the days and each organises its day independently.
The diploma books listing the individual classes, graduates and lecturers and presenting the highlights of the past three years of study are also a tradition.
The tailcoat parade marks the end of the glorious time of the bearded. The graduates present themselves in traditional tailcoats with top hat and full beard. The female graduates also dress in the proper style by donning Biedermeier robes.
The highlight of the parade is when the vehicles made by those on the courses of study drive through the old town with great fanfare. Creativity knows no limits here. The vehicles displayed make the hearts of some technology fans beat faster. Over the decades, the tailcoat parade has become a permanent cultural fixture of the city of Winterthur.
Technology night is held at the conclusion of the tailcoat parade. The final theses of the graduates are presented, professionals from the institutions and centres provide a glimpse of current research projects, numerous laboratories open their doors and even children are allowed to experiment and fiddle about.