Celebrating the holidays: When and where?

When to begin celebrating Christmas is a loaded question between Halloween and Thanksgiving. Many people will argue passionately about the right time to listen to Christmas music or when people should put up their tree. But what do people on Hope College’s campus have to say about it?

Grant Wagner (’20) believes that Christmastime can be celebrated through all seasons: “See, many people feel like there is some limited interval within which they can celebrate Christmas, but there’s no wrong time to be in the Christmas spirit. I believe that Christmas should be celebrated and enjoyed year-round.” On the other hand, when I asked Ty Hergenreder (’20) when Christmas should be celebrated, he replied “December 25.” I followed up the question by asking why, to which he responded, “Because it’s Christmas?”

Brian Ellis (’20) feels similarly to Hergereder. He believes that Christmas should be celebrated “as close to the day as possible,” while Kelly Peregrine (’20) thinks that Christmas should be celebrated “after Thanksgiving.” 

This year, with Thanksgiving falling so late in November, my family decided to celebrate our first Christmas earlier than usual. We put up a Christmas tree two weeks ago, and while it is rather cheaply decorated with only candy canes and few ornaments, I think it adds a lot of cheer and happiness to our home. The snowstorms really put us in a Christmas mood that we couldn’t resist.

As for Christmas music, Wagner considers it “a blessing that I think people should avoid taking for granted, so that it does not lose its novelty. The moment fall hits, I am all in for Christmas music, but playing it too much beforehand can water down its intrinsic value.” Despite having our Christmas tree up, we haven’t listened to all that much Christmas music. I will turn it on occasionally, but typically I save listening to it seriously for after Thanksgiving. 

In terms of other holidays, Wagner said, “While I can appreciate other holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving and the 4th of July, my adoration of Christmas is unparalleled. No other holiday can quite compare.” As we talked, Wagner mentioned, “I just realized I was sitting under a Chstimas tree as we were discussing this!” and sent a picture of a festively decorated Christmas tree from somewhere on Hope’s campus. 

Thankfully, many people can agree that after Thanksgiving is the appropriate time to begin Christmas celebrations, and Holland (and Hope) has several options for Christmas-themed events as a break from studying for finals! The annual Christmas tree lighting takes place on Monday, December 2, starting with hot chocolate on the president’s back patio at 6 p.m., with Christmas carols and the tree lighting at 6:30, following with cookie decorating, snacks and music in the Bultman Student Center at 7 p.m. The next day, on Tuesday, December 3, at 6:30 p.m. is the Parade of Lights, where you can watch Santa and other floats ride through 8th Street!

Volunteer Services offers several opportunities to share the joy of Christmas through volunteer work. On Wednesday, December 4, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. you can sign up to go Christmas caroling for the elderly residents of Appledorn and Freedom Village. Transportation will be provided, along with song books with lyrics to many different carols. You can contact volunteer services at volunteers@hope.edu or search your Hope inbox for an email containing the signup link. 

The Christmas Store is another great place to volunteer and help families get new, wrapped gifts for their children! You can go to the Student Life office and pick up a green bag that will contain gift suggestions for a child, which you can fill with gifts and bring back to Student Life, where volunteer services will take it for the Christmas Store. The green bags must be returned by Friday, December 6, so act fast! The Christmas Store takes place at Central Wesleyan Church, and Hope students are also encouraged to volunteer to help wrap presents and organize the event on Saturday, December 14. Again, you can contact Volunteer Services or search your Hope inbox for an email containing the signup link. 

Hope will also host the 79th annual Christmas Vespers concert, which takes place in Dimnent Memorial Chapel, with tickets being sold at the Events and Conferences office in the Anderson-Werkman Financial Center. Tickets are $10. The event takes place on Saturday, December 7, at 4:30 and 8 p.m., and Sunday, December 8, at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.

The Holiday Kerstmarkt takes place every Friday (November 29 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and December 6 and 13 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.) and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until December 14. The market takes place outside the Civic Center, where the farmer’s market typically happens, and even has dogsled demonstrations on December 7 and 13 from 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. The farmer’s market season ends on December 21. An indoor winter market, which runs January through April, takes place inside the Civic Center on the first and third Saturdays of each month from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” will be playing at the Holland Community Theatre on Friday, November 29, at 7 p.m., Saturday, November 30, at 7 p.m., Sunday, December 1, at 2 p.m., Thursday, December 5, at 7 p.m., Saturday, December 7, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Friday, December 13, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, December 14, at 2 p.m. I haven’t seen the movie, but friends have told me that if you watch it with your significant other, they are sure to fall in love with you. Better plan a date!

If you still need to buy Christmas presents, the shopping jam is a great time to do it! On December 7 from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., select businesses will open early with discounts: 30% off at least one item from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., and 25% off at least one item from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Our very own Dimnent Chapel will be hosting another holiday celebration concert by the Holland Symphony on December 14 at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are only $5 dollars for students (if you haven’t left for home yet), and the concert will feature several classic Christmas carols and holiday classics. 

With so many options to celebrate Christmas, you might as well start as soon as you can!


Megan Grimes (‘20) was the Lifestyle editor at the Anchor during the 2019-2020 academic year. She has a biology and English double major and computer science minor at Hope, and she spends most of her free time playing with her 1-year-old son, Teddy. Running is one of her favorite activities, along with any other outdoor activity, reading, writing, yoga and spending time with friends and family. She loves to share people’s stories with the belief that hearing more about other people’s experiences can help you better navigate your own. After Hope, she intends to find a job in science writing to help better communicate science through story and quality writing.

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