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MIT staff blogger Chris Peterson SM '13

The Month of Novembeard by Chris Peterson SM '13

a cultural exchange

We often discuss diversity here at MITAdmissions: specifically, the importance of having many cultures and learning from them. Today, I would like to share a bit of my own culture with you. It is, in fact, my home state of New Hampshire’s greatest, and most revered, cultural practice: the annual growth of the Novembeard.

The rituals of No-Shave-November, as practiced by natives of New Hampshire, are sacred, but simple:

  • shave on October 31st
  • do not shave again until December 1st
  • see what happens

Please note that No-Shave-November is similar to, but distinct from, Movember, an Australian variant of the practice that focuses exclusively on the area of the face located below the nose and above the upper lip. As I often told my college roommate, who was from Adelaide: nice try. As a cosmopolitan, sophisticated friend of the world, I welcome their naive, childlike interest; as a High Priest of the Temple Of The Novembeard, I must denounce their heresy. Like putting beets on burgers, this is simply a case in which Australia got it backwards (or perhaps upside down).


My Novembeard is now 20 days old, and I am happy to share my current advanced state of cultural observance with you:



Now, you may say, “but Chris, that’s hardly a beard at all!! It looks like a very flat baby sloth is hugging the underside of your chin.” Of course, you saying that would but betray your understandable, adorable, but nevertheless lamentable, understanding of proper production of a Novembeard.

For example:

It is true that my beard appears to be growing only my neck, like a dank bread mold on the underside of a loaf hidden at the back of the supermarket shelf. This is, however, a cultivation (and not just in the bacterial sense). You see, though it is impossible to see in this photo, I actually do have hair on my face, and beneath my nose. It’s just blond, even blonder than the hair on my head. I do not know why this happens, but my going theory is that when those brave pioneers of hair peek cross the boundary of my jawbone onto the vast plain of my face, they become struck, instantly, by its almost insurpassable beauty. Most are not brave enough to venture forth, and those that do are struck, like a young child who has seen a ghost, white with shock at how good looking the ground from which they sprout is. I am like a great lion, tawny and magnificent in my visage, king of all I survey.

Additionally, this beard serves an inspirational, aspirational goal for others. Consider star Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck:



This is unquestionably a tribute to me, personally, and to the leadership I have shown in the realm of proper beards. It is indeed through my pioneering work in the field that  Andrew Luck has become the most highly acclaimed college quarterback since Peyton Manning. While I have done so much for Andrew, I ask almost nothing in return. What’s that, Andrew? You’d like to give me your signing bonus after holding out until the Patriots draft you to eventually replace Tom Brady in five years when he goes off to retire with Giselle? Why I couldn’t possibly…well if you insist… 

Where was I. Ah yes, Novembeard.

Though Ben and Stu once grew beards throughout a reading season, I am, to my knowledge, the only native Novembearder the office has had. You might ask – what do my fellow admissions officers think of my Novembeard? I am sadly unable to know. Few address it, or indeed are able to bring themselves to even gaze upon its magnificence. Just the other day, Mikey became physically ill after I asked him to take a closer look. Like the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, a heathen like he could not bear my beauty.

A Novembeard can, in this way, be a burden, as few around you are of such refined intelligence and aesthetics to appreciate it. Indeed, the life of a monk in the Church of the Novembeard is a lonely, unshaven one, but it is beautiful and transcendent too. It allows you to ask important questions, like “Who am I? Why am I here? When will my neck stop itching?

With ten days to go in my annual observance, I am glad to have brought some of my culture to yours. As we say in New Hampshire: “ahhh shaaw”, and go in peace.

23 responses to “The Month of Novembeard”

  1. KH says:

    Wow, considering that from where I come from, not shaving is not encourage nor is it common at all, this is really interesting. A great and hilarious post!

  2. Muna says:


    I wish I could cultivate my beard as well.. if only I had one.. :|

    *i’m a she by the way. In case you’re thinking: ____ (she) is crazy!

  3. Nolan Meghrouni-Brown says:

    Colloquially known as No Shave November on Reddit and other fine internet communities.

  4. Anonymous says:

    ahahaha! you look amish wink

  5. Pete says:

    No Shave November and Don’t Shave December are my two favorite months of the year!

  6. Mikey says:

    But don’t you care about prostate and other men’s cancers?

  7. Ken L. says:

    Considering that this is the internet, I’m surprised nobody has said something about “brovember” yet. raspberry

    Anyhow, the knock-off cultural practice in our corner of Massachusetts is Manuary – which, in my senseless and oblivious opinion, sounds better and less forced than “Novembeard”.

  8. Chris,
    I thought that your portrait needed a matching Novembeard… So I gave it one! hah. You really should check it out!

  9. Zachary says:

    Haha Chris! I myself was actually participating in Novembeard (aka No Shave Novemeber in WI) up here in Wisconsin, as the days grew colder! I was well into nearly three weeks of my journey until it came time for my interview with an MIT Alumni, so sadly my journey came to an end. Priorities are priorities, so I simply had to shave a little under a week before the end mark.

    Here’s a picture of my progress! Should be right at the top of the page!!!!

  10. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    @Mikey –

    Of course I do. Those things are important. But they are not part of No-Shave-November. Please stop speaking heresies.

    @Mason –

    I just want you to know I forwarded that to all of the bloggers with the title “best blog comment ever.” You, my friend, win all of the cookies.

    @Brandon –

    “I am sadly effectively unable to participate, due to my lack of beard-growing prowess.”

    That didn’t stop me!!

  11. Brandon J. says:

    My school (in OK) calls it No-shave November. I am sadly effectively unable to participate, due to my lack of beard-growing prowess.

  12. Keri says:

    Dude. We’ve discussed this. My Dolphins are totally in the middle of a Suck for Luck season, which is the only thing that stops me from sobbing over our abysmal season.


    Also, nice neckbeard, sir.

  13. Mason Williams says:

    Hah, that’s awesome! I’m glad you liked it! Thanks Chris.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Okay, this is sort of off topic but I’ve been wondering for a long time…do you look at the SAT with writing or without writing (1600 score)?

  15. Erin says:

    And another unrelated question, regarding EA apps: Now that my November SAT Scores are in, how long should it be before they appear in my tracking? Collegeboard says they were sent on the 20th… Thanks!

  16. TWL says:

    My school in South Dakota has a competition to see who can grow the best beards during No-Shave-November. Last year a friend of mine received a bundle of wood for having the best “Lumberjack” look.

  17. Mammi says:

    Hey Chris! Is this a trick question? ‘When will my neck stop itching?’ is there a special theorem? Or is the answer December 1 after you shave? Great post!

  18. Shoyeb says:

    haha that was an awesome post. Too bad I didn’t know about Novembeard sooner. It would’ve been fun to see the results. The only hard part would’ve been the itchy neck =P

  19. Aisha says:

    Lolz. Chris, Novembeard, better known as No-Shave November, is a pretty big deal at my school. While not everyone does it, it’s well know. This year, there’s a fundraiser on all entrants whose beards will be voted upon as either

    The Grizzly Adams: Best Overall Beard
    The Mous’: Best ‘Stache
    The Vincent Van Gogh: Most Creative Beard
    The Dirt: Dirtiest/Scruffiest Beard

    Where will you fall, Chris? xD

  20. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    Oh “The Dirt” without question.

  21. Vero Muñoz says:

    That’s very funny!! Well I don’t really know why this tradition started but I think is a great way to prepare for the festivities of December with a clean face smile

  22. prospective says:

    Hi Chris!
    I have a question about the undergraduate freshman application process, and I really hope you could help. I’m not a US citizen, and schools are different here. Is it necessary to fill the “Secondary School Report”? We don’t have a “counselor” at our school, and I don’t think officials at our school are able to complete the required information.

  23. Mason Williams says:

    And off goes the Novembeard…