Whats up with the white coat ceremony?

At my school, we dont have the ceremony till after the first year which is rapidly coming to a close.
Anyways, whats the format? Do they just call your name up there, people clap, you put on a white coat and thats it?
The reason I'm asking is that I've got a prior commitment. I'm supposed to present some research I've been working on in California, and I'd rather not reschedule it. Is the white coat thing supposed to be a big deal, cause from what I can tell it seems like much ado about nothing.

They vary greatly, even within schools sometimes. My school is divided up into “societies” which then each have their own small white coat ceremonies; some are “have your coat, here’s some cake, let’s sit around and chat”; some are deeply moving and personal moments. I’d ask your colleagues from the year ahead of you whether they gave a *^+ about it because it varies so much from school to school.
Hope your research is going well–that’s cool in and of itself that you’re getting to present somewhere.