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Dorms continue Christmas traditions

| Wednesday, December 7, 2016

As the semester winds down, many dorms come together to celebrate Christmas with different traditions.

As part of its celebrations, Alumni Hall has a candlelight Mass each year. According to Alumni Hall president Matthew Krach, everyone wears formal attire to the Mass, which he says is well-attended.

“Everyone wears suits and ties and dresses up, and usually it’s a standing-room-only Mass, so it’s pretty good,” Krach said. “We have this hanging Advent wreath near the altar, and for each Advent Mass we always have one of the shorter freshmen try and light the wreath with one of the lighters, and it always takes like five minutes for them to actually get it lit.”

The dorm also hosts a Christmas party each year for those who have volunteered in the dorm during the semester.

“We have a Christmas dinner for anyone who’s contributed to the dorm in any way, like any commissioners, or Eucharistic ministers or people who play in the band,” Krach said.

In the days leading up to Christmas, Breen-Phillips Hall hosts its Christmas-themed formal and announces the winners of its decorating contests, according to Sister Mary McNamara, the hall’s rector.

“In BP we have, usually just before Christmas, our formal dance, and the week leading up to the dance we have a gingerbread-house-decorating contest and a section-decorating contest,” McNamara said. “At the dance, at the end of the week, we announce the winner of the hall-decorating and gingerbread-house-decorating contests.”

This year, Father John Conley, the Siegfried rector, contacted Sister Mary Jane Hahner, the Pasquerilla West rector, and the two dorms combined finances to decorate the tree between them.

“[Conley] thought that it would be a wonderful welcome, pointing up to the two new dormitories too, and be … special for this time of the year for everybody,” Hahner said. “I thought it was great, our kids seemed to like it, and it just adds a little bit of Christmas cheer.”

Pasquerilla West also lights the “Ugly Bush,” the bush in the roundabout in front the dorm, each Christmas as part of its community-building traditions.

“We have to buy solar-powered lights, and because Indiana’s so gray, you have to charge them under lights [inside],” Hahner said. “Forty to 45 girls came out for the lighting, and we sang ‘Oh Ugly Bush, Oh Ugly Bush’.”

Around Christmas time each year, O’Neill Hall hangs a wreath with an apostrophe next to it as a symbol of their hall, according to O’Neill Hall president Owen Lane.

“The O is all around O’Neill,” Lane said. “The joke, or just motif, is everything that has an O, you put an apostrophe after it, so that’s definitely the most pervasive symbol for O’Neill Hall,” Lane said. “And so that, as a Christmas wreath, is perfect, especially when you consider — I’d say that we get into the Christmas spirit pretty well in O’Neill.”

Edward Mack, former O’Neill Hall rector, said the wreath was purchased from Walsh Hall several years before he began working as rector in 2002.

“The guys used to say that if you are flying into the South Bend airport, and know where and when to look, the wreath is so big you can see it from the air,” he said in an email. “I was lucky enough to see it from my flight once, and I have to say, I had tears in my eyes.”

However, O’Neill Hall is not the only dorm to decorate for Christmas with a symbol of their dorm. Each year, McGlinn Hall hangs a shamrock, the dorm’s mascot, on the building’s side.

“I think that when the residents of McGlinn wanted to pick their mascot, they just thought about the Irish and what they thought of was shamrocks,” hall president Jenny Richardson said. “I personally really like our mascot because I think it’s easily identifiable, and it really relates to Notre Dame.”

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