Holiday fever is rampant throughout Hope College’s campus (among other, less festive, seasonal illnesses). As the semester comes to a close and Christmas break is just in sight, Hope students have been displaying one last burst of energy and excitement as they look forward to their time off for the holidays. Amongst all the hustle and bustle of preparing for finals and finishing up the last remaining assignments for this wave of classes, Hope students are feeling the pressure. Nevertheless, Hope is known for its prominent sense of community, and there is no shortage of Christmas cheer to enjoy throughout the campus and Holland, including parades, caroling, lighting of trees and crafty decorative activities.
A lot has been going on in the previous week. To kick off the holiday season, Holland hosted their very own annual Christmas parade, the “Parade of Lights,” on Tuesday, November 30. Every year, a series of parade floats adorned with lights and eye-catching decorations, marching bands of local high schools and even Santa Clause, make their way down 8th Street to welcome the winter season. This year’s event featured over 75 floats and trucks, each with its own unique displays. Festive music could be heard from streets away, as the marching bands displayed their talent in their performances of classic holiday tunes, and carolers sang their own collection of favorites. Holland natives, tourists and students alike bundled up to beat the cold as they lined the streets to enjoy the parade, which concluded with Santa standing among his giant, light-up reindeer.
Following this exciting event, our very own President Scogin and his family extended a warm invitation to Hope students for an opportunity for fellowship and celebration of the holiday season at the annual Christmas tree lighting. The event took place on Tuesday, December 2 just after nightfall. Students were treated with hot chocolate on the patio of the President’s home as they laughed and talked in anticipation of the event. As it came closer to the time of the lighting, students migrated to the side of the home and gathered around the tall evergreen tree. Warming their hands and bellies with the cocoa drinks, students also sang carols together in a jovial tune. Finally, the time arrived, and students counted down until the embellished tree was officially lit up to add festive flair on campus. Once the lights had been plugged in, students cheered happily, sharing hugs and pictures to commemorate the moment. The event then moved to the Bultman Student Center to continue the exciting night with plenty of singing and dancing. Amongst all the fun there was even Christmas cookie decorating, where students were able to garnish their treats with colorful icing, sprinkles, and sweet treats like M&Ms. The event turned out to be a great success, with many students showing up to enjoy the night full of giggling, music and tasty food and drinks.
Residence halls have also been getting into the action of holiday spirit, having their own mini-events for their inhabitants. The residents of Dykstra have participated in cozy movie nights, and the hallways are filled with paper chains, snowflake cutouts and twinkling lights. Gilmore also participates in their own movie nights and hosts decorating parties where the Gilmore girls can create decorations to be displayed in the hallways, on individual doors or even in their own rooms. In a more rambunctious manner, College East apartments offered their tenants an exciting and competitive night of laser tag to help take some stress off their minds as finals inevitably approaches us. Durfee has their own set of (somewhat) secret traditions as Christmas approaches, and their not-so-secret, “Durfee Days,” as well as the “12 days of ‘Durfmas.’”
Campus Ministries has also been getting into the Christmas spirit as they celebrate what Christmas is all about. Hosting events such as Vespers, Lessons and Carols in the Dimnent Memorial Chapel, they welcome students to come to hear about the Christmas story and share fellowship as they sing praises and classic Christmas tunes.
There will also be a wide variety of Christmas-themed events in the upcoming two weeks before break, including “Christmas Jazz and Cocoa.” This event will take place on Wednesday, December 8 at 7:30 p.m. in the Bultman Student Center and will feature a performance of Christmas music with a jazzy twist provided by the Grammy-nominated trombonist, Stanford Hunter. The event is BYOC (bring your own cocoa) so be sure to break out those thermoses, and if you’ve already managed to exhaust your own hot chocolate supply in the midst of all the holiday hustle and bustle, worry not: Kletz market will be selling the cozy drink at a small price. There will also be a showing of the Academy Award-winning film, “Miracle on 34th Street” at the Knickerbocker Theater. The showing will be held on Monday, December 13, at 7:30 p.m. The community event will be a great way to relax and cuddle up after the first official day of finals, so be sure to get in the holiday spirit and check it out.
As the Michigan air becomes chilly, the days get shorter and we’ve already seen first glimpses of snow, the wintery holiday season is an exciting time to be with friends, celebrate the past year, reflect on what we’re thankful for, and enjoy time off with our families. However, with all the excitement comes the added stresses and pressures of semester finals. In this busy time of year, it’s all too easy to become overwhelmed and burdened by all of the commitments and responsibilities you have to fulfill. While it is important to take these exams or presentations seriously by allowing yourself plenty of time to study and prepare, it is also just as important to get out of your dorm (or study area of choice) to experience or even participate in the festivities and events that Hope College and the city of Holland has to offer.