25 Years Of Texan Hexin’ Continues Tonight With Hex Rally

The first Hex Rally in 1941On Thanksgiving Day 1941, the University of Texas football team was to travel to College Station to take on No. 2 Texas A&M, who had already won the Southwest Conference Championship and who seemed to have a jinx on the Longhorns.

Since 1923 — for 18 years — the Longhorns had been unable to win at Kyle Field. Desperate to break the College Station “jinx,” UT students consulted Madam Agusta Hipple, a local fortune teller, who instructed the students to burn red candles to “hex” the Aggies and stop the jinx.

Throughout the week of Thanksgiving, candles were burned all over Austin, and local shops had trouble keeping them in stock.

Madam Hipple knew what she was doing. By uniting the football team and its fans with such a visible show of support, how could the Longhorns fail? They didn’t. Texas went to College Station, beat the Aggies 23 – 0, and finished the season ranked fourth-best in the land.

After its success in 1941, the red-candle hex was used sporadically, against No. 1 SMU in 1950, No. 3 Baylor in 1953, and No. 8 TCU in 1955.

But the social upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s changed students’ attitudes toward long-established University traditions. Many were abandoned and forgotten, including the hex.

In September 1986, members of the Texas Exes Student Involvement Committee, known today as the Texas Exes Student Chapter, created the Spirit and Traditions Board to create a stronger sense of community on campus.

While wading through old Cactus yearbooks and Daily Texan newspapers in search of long-lost traditions that might be reinstated, the students rediscovered the red-candle hex.

The first official Hex Rally was scheduled two days before the A&M game on Thanksgiving 1986. At 11:15 p.m. Tuesday evening, the Longhorn Band marched from the stadium to the Main Mall, bringing students out of the dorms as they passed.

The physics department constructed a large, metal, gas-lit red candle that is still used today. And then-UT president William Cunningham, who wanted to speak at the rally but had to attend a formal dinner out-of-town, flew back to Austin immediately after his event and had a police escort from the airport to make it to the Main Mall on time, still dressed in his tuxedo.

With the Longhorn Band’s arrival and a Main Mall packed with students, the inaugural Hex Rally began at 11:30 p.m. with songs, yells, speeches, and a retelling of the origins of the tradition. The Aggies were “hexed” at midnight as thousands of students raised red candles and sang “The Eyes of Texas.”

The 25th annual Hex Rally starts tonight on the Main Mall at 8 p.m. Come out and help hex the Aggies. Red candles will be provided.

The first official Hex Rally, held in 1986.


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