Children laughing, people passing, meeting smile after smile. In the air there’s a feeling of Samford spirit.
On Thursday Dec. 2, Samford University welcomed the holiday season with “O Come, All Ye Faithful”: A Day of Christmas Celebration. Beginning with the “Christmas Around the World” service in Reid Chapel and ending with the Samford Theatre Department’s production of “A Christmas Carol,” the day featured countless time honored Samford traditions.
At 4 p.m., students, professors and Samford family shuffled into Reid Chapel for the annual “Hanging of the Green” service. As a part of the service, student participants ceremoniously decked the halls with garland and lit the advent wreath.
President Beck Taylor and his family presented an ornament to hang on the Chrismon tree, a special tree traditionally placed in churches that features ancient Chrismon symbols of Christ’s ministry in the traditional Christmas liturgical colors of white and gold.
The service also featured musical performances from the Samford A Cappella Choir, the University Chorale and organist Jamie McLemore performing such classics as “Jesus Christ the apple tree” and “Carol of the Bells.”
Sophomore Libby Criswell, a member of the A Cappella Choir, discussed how meaningful it was for her to be a part of the event.
“One of my favorite parts about being in Samford’s A Cappella Choir is that I am able to participate in campus events such as Hanging of the Green service,” Criswell said. “Not only did I get to experience the service, but I got to actively contribute to it, and that was really special.”
After Hanging of the Green, students streamed out of Reid Chapel to gather around the magnificent Christmas tree in the center of Centennial Walk to witness Lighting of the Way.
Spotlights swathed the stage in festive red and green as Samford First Lady Julie Taylor read a passage from the Bible. President Taylor addressed the audience, wishing all the attendees from ages one to 92 a very Merry Christmas.
“On behalf of Julie, Chloe and our family, we wish you hope and joy and peace this Christmas season,” Taylor said. “Please know that we are praying for you every day as you finish this fall semester.”
President Taylor then commenced the count down and the crowd joined in chanting. A cheer arose as the Christmas tree illuminated the dazzled faces of Samford students and Centennial Walk glittered to life around them.
Samford Student Activities Council’s Director of Special Events Andrew Mintz said that Lighting of the Way is his Samford tradition, and the addition of the Taylors this year made it extra special.
“While I love the entire event, I would say one of my favorite moments was when Dr. and Mrs.
Taylor read the Christmas story and led the countdown for the tree lighting,” Mintz said.
Underneath the gleaming lights, the crowd milled around the Quad, enjoying a selection of yuletide activities. At one station, attendees could write a letter to Santa, asking for anything their hearts desired, whether it be a hippopotamus or a pair of Christmas shoes. At another station, students painted Christmas ornaments to take home.
In between ornament decorating and letter writing, attendees snacked on Christmas cookies, macaroni and cheese balls and steak kabobs. And if Jack Frost began nipping at their nose, a hot chocolate station awaited to warm their frozen fingers.
Mintz credited the delicious spread of food to the catering team from Sodexo.
“As far as food, Sodexo did a great job catering the event. My vision was to feature foods that
were tasty and easy for people to grab, which we certainly accomplished,” Mintz said. “I have heard only positive things about the food selection and the hot chocolate and cider station.”
The Student Activities Council began planning for Lighting of the Way in October. Mintz explained that he and his team went through every aspect of the event in detail to decide the most effective and fun way to bring their vision to life.
“One of the key aspects we kept in mind while planning was the thought of maintaining the tradition of Lighting of The Way while also introducing some new ideas,” Mintz said. “In a broad sense, it was similar to how it has been in years past, but I also think that is important as it gives a sense of normalcy once again on campus.
On the other side of Centennial Walk, students rocked around the Christmas tree as Colony House performed a mixture of original songs and Christmas covers that had everyone dancing merrily in a new old fashioned way.
At the end of the evening, students were encouraged to attend the last event in Samford’s day of festivities, the opening night of “A Christmas Carol” musical performed by the Samford Theatre Department.