It’s December! The month of festivities, mistletoe, holiday cheer, family, and faith. Here at CUA, we definitely don’t lack Christmas spirit. There are garlands hung all around the student center, and every academic department boasts some sort of interesting decoration. The nursing building has a large twinkling tree, rivaling the annual decorations in the Main Mullen Library. Christmas traditions are something I think we all enjoy taking part in each year. At home, my family and I kick off the Christmas season with caroling on December 4th (my little sister’s birthday). We follow that up with decorating the tree exactly 8 days before Christmas. In college, you can miss some of those little moments that seem the most precious. So, we have established our own school traditions with our adopted CUA family. One of these is the annual Christmas tree lighting. It’s usually held the last day of academic classes. There are speeches, singers, and an abundance of cheer. Directly after that is a large Christmas concert for Charity at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, just a few steps across campus. I have had the privilege of performing in this Christmas concert for the past three years and this year was my final performance. We work tirelessly over at the music school, where Christmas songs are rehearsed in August when it is still 90 degrees outside. Despite the work and long hours rehearsing, the turn out never disappoints. There is no feeling quite like that of live performance. The Basilica is an amazing place to sing because it echoes for over 8 seconds. In there, singing my heart out to hundreds upon hundreds of people, I feel like a part of something important and bigger than myself. Knowing that the donations from the concert benefit charities is just a perk. Each year the concert is nationally broadcast on EWTN. Since I am from Massachusetts, the long drive doesn’t allow my parents to come see the concert every year. Therefore, it being broadcast gives me the chance to share my CUA family traditions with my family at home.
Not all of the CUA traditions surrounding Christmas are as serious or formal as the Christmas Concert, though. A great source of laughs is the annual Ugly Christmas Sweater party. You know those horrible sweaters you see online, and assume must be fake? Well, some people actually wear them! Yes, I was just as shocked. Some people come up with the most horrifying and wonderful outfits for the party and it never fails to disappoint. DC also has some fun traditions. There is the National Christmas Tree Lighting across from the White House. Those tickets are hard to get, but if you are lucky it is supposed to be a beautiful performance. Chinatown also boasts an annual Holiday market, with local vendors selling cool stocking stuffers and neat trinkets. Overall, Catholic and DC have so many ways for students to get into the Christmas mood. Whether you decorate horrible sweaters, catch holiday shows at the Kennedy Center, peruse holiday markets, or just enjoy the company of your friend over cocoa, CUA has some way for every student to make his or her own CUA holiday tradition.
– Eleanor Tynan