Alfred Nobel (1833-96), Swedish chemist and inventor, pictured circa 1750
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By Lily Rothman
December 10, 2015

It’s been months since the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet was announced as the winner of the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize, but in the intervening weeks they’ve been laureates in name only: Thursday is the day on which the honorees will actually receive the Nobel medal and have a chance to deliver a Nobel lecture.

That date is no coincidence. Ever since the first Nobel prizes were awarded in 1901, they have been conferred on Dec. 10. The first ceremony took place five years to the day after Nobel died, and it has since become what the Nobel Committee calls an “established tradition.”

The date was one of the very few instructions for the prizes that Nobel didn’t specify in his will, as TIME has explained before:

After Alfred Nobel’s death in 1896, his executors discovered that the inventor of dynamite had secretly set aside about 35 million Swedish kronor (about $225 million [in 2009]) for the creation of five annual prizes to honor those who bestowed the “greatest benefit on mankind” in science, literature and diplomacy…

The recipient, which Nobel instructed should be the person who has performed the “best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses,” is determined by a five-member committee appointed by Norway’s Parliament. Nominations are solicited from an undisclosed number of contributors—past winners, prominent institutions—and the winner is decided by a simple majority vote.

Read more about the history of the Nobel Prize:

The Tragic Nobel Peace Prize Story You’ve Probably Never Heard

Why a Nobel Peace Prize Was Once Rejected

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