Wartburg is named after the Wartburg Castle in Eisenach, Germany. a center for culture and the arts since the 11th century. The castle became a significant landmark in Lutheran history during the 16th century Reformation. While under a papal ban and disguised as a knight, Martin Luther spent 10 months in hiding at the castle. During that time, he completed a translation of the New Testament into German. Considered one of Luther's greatest achievements, this translation became the standard for a uniform written language throughout Germany.
The college's castle heritage is evident in many traditions. The Saemann Student Center has the Hagemann Castle Room for special events, and the student cafeteria is called the Mensa, a German word for university cafeteria. The Vogel Library coffee shop also has a German name, the Konditorei. Vocal music groups include the Castle Singers and the Ritterchor (Knights Choir). Meistersinger Music Scholarships and music festivals are named for medieval singing competitions held at the Wartburg Castle.
Since the 1950s Wartburg College and Luther College in Decorah have celebrated a friendly rivalry that has produced some legendary spectacles over the years. One such event actually lead to Rolling Stone Magazine listing it as one of the best college pranks of the year. Click here to learn more about the rivalry (PDF).
Sometimes called by its German name, "Ausflug," Outfly is a student-initiated, one-day holiday. This Wartburg tradition traces back to the 1890s. It now occurs once a year during the Fall Term. Outfly is called upon a date known only to the college president and the student body president. Evening classes on Outfly are not cancelled.
All first-year students are "knighted" by the president and other leaders of the College during orientation weekend.