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The Traditions of Tau Kappa Epsilon
TKE Coat of Arms
The TKE Coat-of-Arms consists of a shield of the Norman form, upon which is a bend with five equilateral triangles, surmounting a scroll bearing the initial letters of a secret motto in Greek, and surmounted by a skull, or death's head, three-quarters profile. This assemblage is done in the official colors, cherry and gray, properly mantled. Its connotation, or meaning, is also revealed by the initiation ritual. The Coat-of-Arms may be used only by official members of the fraternity on stationery, jewelry, and other personal effects. It is used by the fraternity upon its official stationery, membership certificates, and other documents. Distinctive and beautiful, the TKE Coat-of-Arms is vastly unique to that employed by any other fraternity. Modified slightly several times during the early years of Tau Kappa Epsilon, the present Coat-of-Arms, adopted in 1926, was designed by Dr. Carlton B. Pierce and Ms. Emily Butterfield.
The Official Flower
The official flower of the fraternity is the red carnation. From the red carnation is derived the color for our Coat-of-Arms, flag, banner, and many other symbols. The official flower is worn during initiations and at TKE banquets. It is also represented by the Red Carnation Ball, a banquet and dance celebrated by most TKE chapters each year.
TKE's Greek Patron: Apollo
The mythological ideal or patron of Tau Kappa Epsilon is Apollo, one of the most important of Olympian divinities. The Grecian god of music and culture, of light and the ideals toward which all Tekes must constantly be striving. Typifying the finest development of manhood, the selection of Apollo is most appropriate.
The official colors of Tau Kappa Epsilon are cherry and gray. These colors are displayed in the official flower, the red carnation, and in the official jewel of the fraternity, the pearl.
The TKE Badge
The official membership badge, made of either white or Roman gold and adorned with three white pearls, is by far the most important item of TKE insignia in general use. Only this badge may be worn by undergraduate members. Jeweled badges, crown set with pearls, diamonds, rubies or emeralds, according to choice, may be worn by alumni members. Frequently the standard membership badge is used as a token of engagement. Miniature badges are also available for mothers, sisters, or for engagement purposes. The TKE 'badge of gold', unique in its design and distinctiveness, has never been changed since its adoption. The meaning and connotations of the badge are revealed to members during initiation.
The TKE Flag
The present design of the TKE flag, as adopted at the 1961 Conclave, features five voided triangles, in cherry red, on a gray bend surmounting a red field. Due to it's patterning after the shield of the fraternity Coat-of-Arms, the flag is readily associated with Tau Kappa Epsilon. Individual chapters may also purchase and use pennants and wall banners of various designs. These usually employ the name or Greek letters of the fraternity and chapter, and may incorporate the basic TKE insignia. TKE insignia must be purchased from the Offices of the Grand Chapter.
The Equilateral Triangle
The primary symbol of the fraternity is the equilateral triangle. It appears proudly upon the fraternity's badge, upon it's Coat-of-Arms, and upon the fraternity flag. Equal-sided, representing the striving toward a full and equal development of mind, body, and heart, it means much within ranks of our fraternity. It serves as a reminder, too, of the early days of the fraternity and the traditions established by it's founders, since the first three chapters of Tau Kappa Epsilon, which supplied the foundations for its growth, formed an equilateral triangle in their geographical relationship.
The Horse Shoe
In April of 1921 members of the Fraternity at The Ohio State University made their way to the Conclave in Madison, Wisconsin. At the conclusion of the vote granting their charter as Omicron Chapter, one of the members pulled from his pants pocket a rusty horseshoe which the fraters had picked up along the way. Believing that the horseshoe had granted the chapter good luck, the tradition began to pass the horseshoe down to each chapter. The ORIGINAL horseshoe was lost during WWII at the Alpha-Chi Chapter (it was replaced with a new horseshoe to continue the tradition).
In mid-1995, the ORIGINAL horseshoe was discovered by Past Grand Prytanis Rodney Williams among some artifacts belonging to Alpha-Chi Chapter, which had been held for years by a charter member of the chapter. At the 49th Biennial Conclave, the original TKE horseshoe from Omicron Chapter was displayed, and the story behind its loss explained.