SHU named best holiday college in the nation

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The University celebrated its tree lighting ceremony on Tuesday, Dec. 6. Photo via Facebook/Seton Hall University.

From the tree lighting ceremony to the “12 Acts of Christmas Kindness” movement, the Christmas at the Hall committee hosts an abundance of Christmas events aimed at getting students in the holiday spirit before finals and winter break. After planning since the summer, the committee has been recognized for its efforts.

Seton Hall University has been dubbed the college with the best holiday events in the nation by Best College Reviews, a competitor of the U.S. News and World Report.

The ranking was based on four categories: the number and variety of events, the number of days events are offered, uniqueness of the events and community involvement.

“Festivities abound and students will ring in the Christmas cheer during the two weeks leading up to Christmas break,” the report said of SHU.

The ranking cited the carol-singing, Creche blessing, pancake breakfast with Santa, Jazz Band Christmas performance, Winter Ball, Lessons and Carols, University Christmas party and Young Alumni Christmas party, sponsored by different departments across campus, as contributing factors in the decision.

Adam Eltouny, a senior psychology major, was raised Muslim but said it’s “not hard to get excited” during the Christmas season at SHU.
“Seton Hall puts in so much effort and makes it the best time of year to be on campus,” Eltouny said.

President A. Gabriel Esteban initiated Christmas at the Hall when he became president of SHU in 2011. Division of Volunteer Efforts (DOVE) Director Michelle Peterson said that “[Esteban’s] dedication to bringing people to the center of campus each year to celebrate the light of Christmas makes Seton Hall feel like a family.”

Assistant Dean of Students Winston Roberts and Associate Director for Student Activities Alison Sotolongo chair the Christmas at the Hall committee, made up of members from Alumni Relations, Public Safety, Facilities Engineering, Athletics, Freshman Studies, Housing and Residence Life, Public Relations and Marketing and the Office of Mission and Ministry.

Seton Hall is great at celebrating Christmas because it celebrates the “true meaning of Christmas,” Peterson said.

“It is a time where we gather together – students, staff and alumni – to focus on the gift of Jesus in our lives,” Peterson said in an email interview. “From the illuminated Green, to the creches in each residence hall, to the beautifully adorned chapel, to the explosion of gifts collected for the poor in the DOVE office, you see in every corner of this campus that it is Christmas.”

Peterson added that DOVE’s toy and food drives provide for those who would otherwise have to do without on Christmas, and she is always surprised by the “generous response” from the Seton Hall community.

Ciara Aliparo, a sophomore social and behavioral sciences major, said that she loves the Christmas festivities at SHU in the midst of finals.
“It reminds us of the holidays at home,” Aliparo said. “Also it’s a nice distraction from all the end of the semester stress and working.”

Esteban said that current students and alumni come to enjoy the many festivities hosted on campus during the “holy but often hectic” holiday season.

“Christmas at the Hall is more than our festivities,” Esteban said in an email. “It’s a celebration of the birth of Christ, which creates a sense of joy that permeates the entire campus.”

Brianna Bernath can be reached at brianna.bernath@student.shu.edu.

Author: Brianna Bernath

Brianna Bernath is a journalism major at Seton Hall University, where she is the News Editor of The Setonian. She is currently a TODAY.com intern at NBC News. She has previously interned with "TODAY" at NBC News and "Mad Money with Jim Cramer" at CNBC. You can follow Brianna on Twitter @briannabernath, where you can find her most recent work.

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