By Zachary Lichter
The Light the Season event at The Catholic University of America kicked off the holiday celebrations on December 1. Light the Season happens annually on the first Friday of December, with the CUA community gathering in front of the Christmas tree outside McMahon Hall.
Allison Ewing, a sophomore computer science major and drama minor, shared how Light the Season gets people into the Christmas spirit.
“I think it’s the best way to kick off the month of December cause it’s almost or always on December 1st,” Ewing said. “You have your Christmas carols, you have your tree and the lights but also just like the sense of camaraderie of among all the different kinds of students from around campus.”
This year, the festivities for Light the Season looked different compared to the tradition in the past. Since rain was in the forecast for that day, the event was moved inside to the atrium on the third floor of the Pryzbyla Center. It usually takes place outside next to the huge Christmas tree by McMahon Hall. Instead, students were standing from the left side of the Pryzbyla Atrium to the staircase. Since Light the Season includes lighting a Christmas tree towards the end, CUA’s Office of Campus Activities decided to light the Christmas tree in the Pryz.
The event included Father Aquinas Guilbeau, the University Chaplain and Vice President of Ministry and Mission, leading everyone with an opening prayer and the benediction at the end. The celebrations also included the three acapella groups on campus singing Christmas carols: Washingtones, Redline, and Take Note.
President Peter Kilpatrick said a few words before he lit the tree, and then the event ended with everyone lighting each other’s candles and singing “Joy to the World.” Those who came to Light the Season also partook in collecting a complimentary ornament as a souvenir.
Samuel Nwuha, a senior computer science major, and Molly Mullin, a senior politics major and media and peace and justice minor, as the emcees, welcoming everyone who showed up.
Nwuha talked about the symbolism of a Christmas tree and how the color evergreen gives Jesus’ life-giving presence among everyone. He said that when the Christmas lights turn on, they represent Jesus’ life-giving presence shining on everyone. Mullin stated that those gathered to celebrate Christ’s presence among everyone in the CUA community.
CUA’s three acapella groups gave rousing holiday-themed performances. Take Note first sang “Hark the Herald Angel Sing,” and then the Washingtones sang “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” Rounding out the performances, Redline sang “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” with Anita Gulia, a senior Italian Studies and English major, as the soloist.
Following these performances, Mullin introduced President Kilpatrick and he spoke of how Christmas is his favorite time of the year because it’s a time to see family and give back to the community.
Kilpatrick also talked about his wife, Nancy, who would always donate to the giving tree at Church. He said it’s a time of joy, a season to celebrate that we’ve been saved and that God became Man. Finally, he encouraged everyone to attend the other events happening around campus.
Finishing his address, Kilpatrick said that people would hear the saying, “God is our light,” before lighting the tree. Father Aquinas spoke a Benediction, and everyone in attendance sang two verses of “Joy to the World.” Light the Season ended with everyone socializing over hor d’oeuvres.
Caitlin Hernandez, a sophomore elementary education major and marketing minor and Redline performer, commented on positive changes with this year’s Light the Season:
“I think there is something special about being in the cold together and then being able to drink hot cocoa and to be able to see the gigantic tree outside of McMahon Hall,” Hernandez said. “But I think the Pryz atrium was a really great location because being in the Pryz, it allowed for more students to go in and out and so when they are seeing something happening they are actually drawn to it. We had a lot of people in attendance, almost more than half from last year and it brought us closer together.”