An inauguration is a rite of passage marking a "formal or ceremonial induction to an office or dignity."
The earliest roots of the word inauguration date back to the mid-16th century and derive from ancient Roman culture and the Latin word auguratio: prediction of the future by the reading of what were thought of as signs or omens in nature.
In ancient Roman times, official acts or civic enterprises were always preceded by an augury, the sacred ritual of observing patterns in the flight of birds. The priest conducting the ceremony would interpret the birds' flight patterns as they related to the future of the enterprise.
Collegiate presidential inaugurations in the United States originated with the nation's nine colonial colleges in the 17th century and established the custom of formally acknowledging a change in leadership, within a context of continuity and tradition.
The procession at an inauguration has a traditional order: first, delegates of colleges and universities arranged according to their founding dates; second, delegates of learned societies and other associations, faculty, trustees, speakers, and other dignitaries; and last, the person to be inaugurated.