Sine Die

At 11:00am on Friday, May 5th, the 2023 Regular Session of the Florida Legislature ended with a motion to adjourn “Sine Die” (without day) as the chambers respective Sergeant-at-Arms met in the Capitol Rotunda and ceremoniously dropped handkerchiefs at the same time. This custom started 100 years ago and served a very specific purpose in 1923.

At that time, the Legislature met in the now Historic Capitol building and where the chambers do not face each other as they do now. As a result, the presiding officers had no way to either see or communicate with each other via telephone, monitors, or other modern means. 

As the 1923 Regular Session was winding down, House Speaker L.D. Edge and Senate President Theo T. Turnbull decided that they would adjourn Sine Die at the exact same time. Not wanting to leave their respective chambers to gavel the end, how could that be done without seeing or hearing each other?

They decided that each Sergeant-at-Arms would walk straight out of their respective chambers and stay within the line of sight of their leader. But they would also be able to see each other. As the Senate President and House Speaker struck their gavel down following their motions to adjourn Sine Die, the Sergeants would each drop their handkerchief signifying the end of Session. Thus, began a 100-year tradition.