Prom: Malden Versus the World

A typical South American prom. Photo courtesy of

Prom, short for promenade, is a semi-formal dance for, typically, high school seniors. It is typically held towards the end of the year and is a highly celebrated and anticipated time for students, especially in America, where it is most enjoyed.

As the the 2013-2014 school year is coming to a close, whilst the freshmen, sophomore, and juniors move up, the seniors have one more big event other than graduation to look forward to: prom. The young men are readying themselves with tuxedos and corsages and such and the young ladies are getting their dresses ready to make their one last impression on their fellow classmates: all are anticipating the night to come. Almost every senior in the country is getting ready for the time to just let loose and celebrate the end of their four years as a high school student.

Though whilst being known as a very popular American event, the United States is not the only country to throw an end-of the year affair for their graduating classes. Europe holds events for their students as well. In fact, prom originated, according to Prom Guide, “from traditional European formal affairs that have been going on since before America was even discovered.”

In those days, England held debutante balls, which are, as defined by Wikipedia, “formal presentations of young ladies,” and soon American “parents’ admiration of these balls and their desire to teach their children something about culture and etiquette brought about the development of the first high school prom back in the 1930’s,” Prom Guide explained.

Nowadays, the United Kingdom refer to these celebrations as merely school formals. Germans refer to their proms as an “Abifeier,” and they are similar to their American counterpart. Norway holds “Nyttårsballets,” which means “the new year’s ball,” as can be guessed by the name, instead of the end of the year, it is held in the winter. Holding dances in the winter is not an uncommon thing, as Austria’s “Masturaballs” are also in the winter, usually in January or February before their end of the year exams.

Asia also joins in on the end-of-the-year celebrations to some extent, as well. Rather than a semi-formal-at-night dance, Afghanistan’s graduating university, rather than high school, students, organize a party that resembles a graduation celebration, where both the professors and students are honored.

It is split into two parts, the first being formal in order to honor the teachers and other faculty members, and the second part being the opposite. Students are able to enjoy the music and dancing.

In Nepal and India, there are no couple dances, unfortunately, but the nations do have an equivalent to some extent to prom, in the form of farewell parties and gatherings, and the seniors are able to receive superlatives and souvenirs.

Israel is influenced by American proms and more and more high schools from there are celebrating in a similar fashion as us, but traditionally, Israel hold parties rather than dances with a humble ceremony to go along with it.

Hong Kong inherits its celebrations from America, though instead of a prom, its known as a ball that takes place during Christmas and summer break. Singapore is similar to us as well, with their proms taking place after final exams. Vietnam’s end-of-the-year event is known as “liên hoan cuối năm,” which appropriately translates to “end-of-the-year festival.”

South America is not left out either as the continent, as well has its own prom-equivalents. Venezuela has dances nearly identical to America’s, even going as far as calling their proms, “promos.” Argentina has "fiestas de egresados," meaning “festival of graduates,” where big parties are had with also a formal dinner with parents held as well.

Brazil has “bailes de formatura,” meaning “formal dances,” where while there may not be any crowning of kings and/or queens, live music from DJs are common.

In Chile, "fiestas de graduación," or “graduation parties,” according to Wikipedia, “are usually held at convention centers or hotels” after graduation.  Though they can also be held after taking the PSU, a Chilean University Entrance Exam, in December. Students usually dress formally.

Colombia’s private schools hold their balls like American proms in either clubs or hotels normally.

Uruguay also holds graduation parties, but usually, its organized by the students rather than the school, and they are after graduation,  rather than before.

No matter when or where, seniors all over the world celebrate the end of their high school careers. As they move on to college and/or to the workforce, these students will be able to cherish the last moments in high school.


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