As students pull all nighters, walking out of the Walsh library, a glimmer of lights accompanies the sunrise: Seton Hall’s Christmas Tree.
The Christmas tree is lit on the Green annually as part of on-campus Christmas celebrations. Along with the tree, the campus also prominently displays wreaths on several buildings including the University Center and Jubilee Hall.
The main portion of the Caf is also decorated with several poinsettia plants in honor of the Christmas season.
The tree is lit by the Facilities Engineering Maintenance Department, which is responsible for general year-round workings on campus.
The department takes care of on-campus buildings, as well as the land and grounds. The holiday season gives them the added responsibility of decorating for Christmas.
The tree is strung with several hundred strings of lights and features thousands of individual colored light bulbs.
“Facilities Engineering takes great pride in their work.
They are in charge of it all, hanging every light and changing every bulb,” the Rev. James Spera, director of Campus Ministry said. “One of the other really visible things we have here on campus is the Christmas Creche in front of the Chapel.”
A Christmas Creche, also known as the Nativity scene, is a scene depicting the birth of Christ in the manger. St. Francis of Assisi started the tradition of displaying creches in 1223.
“I think students really enjoy seeing the Christmas tree and crèche,” Noreen Shea, a campus minister, said.
Spera said the department gets a very good response from students.
“On the night we light the tree and bless the Creche, everyone seems to enjoy it and understand the symbolism behind it, that Christ is the light of the world,” he said.
Junior Susie Kosakowski said she looks forward to the tree every year.
“I think the tree is placed well on the Green for everyone to see,” Kosakowski said. “I think it brings out the holiday spirit on campus.”
Spera stresses the importance of remembering the religious roots of the holiday. The campus is currently in the middle of celebrating the season of Advent, the season of preparation for Christmas.
“Christmas is not about commercialism and we, as a Catholic university, encourage our students not to see it that way,” he said. “Christmas is a time about bringing us closer and celebrating family and friends. This is consistent with the teachings of Jesus and a way to celebrate exactly what it is that Christ wanted.”
Other than the tree and the Creche, Seton Hall features a number of other Christmas traditions, including the annual toy drive to benefit needy children throughout the country.
The toy drive, organized by the Division of Volunteer Efforts, was extended due to an increased demand for toys. In past years, the toys collected were sent primarily to West Virginia. This year, they were also sent to St. John’s Soup Kitchen in Newark and several more sites throughout the area.
Other activities include the Student Activities Board annual Winter Ball and several opportunities to make cards and decorations for soldiers and children’s hospitals. Habitat for Humanity started a Gingerbread House Decorating contest. The contest will continue this year and the club plans on continuing the program in years to come.
Alyana Alfaro can be reached at email@example.com.