As the first two snowfalls of this school year have already shown, winter is in the air. For some, the thought of winter fills them with dread as they remember the harsh winds, sub-zero temperatures and slippery sidewalks. However, there is a wonderful part of winter that is sometimes forgotten. With winter comes the Christmas season.
While no two people celebrate Christmas in the exact same way and not everybody celebrates Christmas at all, Christmas is a serious holiday at St. Olaf College. Being a Lutheran college, St. Olaf proudly and successfully celebrates Christmas.
I have always loved the Christmas season, not for the presents, but for the celebrations and coming-together of people. Here at St. Olaf, thousands of students and faculty join together to celebrate this season. Each person brings their own experiences and traditions to make this holiday season an inviting place for all. In this way, Christmas does not need to be strictly religious, but can simply be a time of merriment and warmth.
Coming to campus last year, I was very skeptical of how the college would celebrate Christmas. Not wanting to budge from my home tradition of watching sappy Hallmark Christmas movies and baking way too many cookies, I was nervous that Christmas would be ruined. However, St. Olaf College only made Christmas better.
First of all, St. Olaf has the best Christmas decorations. Not only does Buntrock get decked out with Christmas trees and holiday decorations, but every building on campus receives a holiday make-over. Residence halls are bedecked with handmade snowflakes and decorated, and doors and buildings receive ornamented trees. Outside, each lamp post is adorned with a festive bow, and the large pots which once held flowers are filled with holly and evergreen branches.
Besides decorations, St. Olaf also hosts its famous Christmas Fest. With four concerts, thousands of attendees, five choirs and an orchestra, there cannot be a better way to spread the holiday cheer and bring people together. The harmonious voices of the choirs sing of hope, wonder and happiness. After each concert, the audience leaves, amazed at how those five choirs were able to project such a beautiful message.
Even students not in a musical ensemble can spread the holiday cheer by Christmas caroling or singing and listening to their favorite holiday music around campus. St. Olaf offers countless events to get everyone into the holiday spirit. There are holiday parties, Christmas caroling, cookie-decorating and countless more activities. The college even provides wrapping paper and tape for students to wrap gifts for their friends on campus.
Furthermore, nothing says Christmas like beautiful, white snow. Lucky for us, St. Olaf should have plenty of snow by the time Christmas is in full-swing. The snow is perfect for sledding down Old Main hill and building snowmen. The softly falling snowflakes encourage students and staff to bundle in warm holiday sweaters and sip hot chocolate from the Cage while talking to friends old and new.
Now I know some of you might think it is too early to think about Christmas, but for me, Christmas is a time to celebrate friends and family and forget about the cold. It is especially during this time that St. Olaf becomes my home away from home.