Christmas 2021 on the Hilltop

December 20, 2021

By Anna Brennan-Curry

Christmas events were alive and well on the Hilltop this year. After last year’s hiatus, students marked the holiday season with many of their favorite Saint Anselm College traditions.

“There are many rich traditions at the College, and the holiday time at the end of first semester holds many of the favorites,” explains Dr. Alicia Finn, vice president of student affairs and dean of students. “We were cognizant that approximately one-half of our students had no experience of these traditions, and may not appreciate what these have meant to decades of alums.  Thus, we asked alums and seniors to share why they loved the tradition and explain its connectedness to who we are.  We were thrilled when alums across many years and our seniors responded!”

The season began with the Meelia Center for Community Engagement’s Annual Holiday Fair. Held virtually last year, this year’s event saw 147 student volunteers organize 45 different craft tables for 81 guests. One exciting addition came from UpReach Therapeutic Equestrian Center, a community partner, who brought two mini-ponies to campus to spend time with the families during the fair.

“It was very exciting to be able to host an in-person Holiday Fair, especially with it being the 30th annual year of the event,” said Ellie Carlson-McNally ’23, a service events coordinator who coordinated and planned the fair. “Our Saint A’s community came together to make this event possible and safe for our community members to attend. We are already so excited to see everyone again next year!”

Students left for Thanksgiving break piled high with the cheesecakes, pies, and breads eagerly awaited by family at home. This year, Saint Anselm’s Dining Services sold 2,000 pies, 1,100 cheesecakes, and 1,300 loaves of bread.

“The bake sale is my favorite Saint A’s Christmas tradition because I get to bring food home to my family,” shared Madison Rossi ’23. “My sister asks every year, so I get a bunch of cheesecakes. The truffle ones are her favorite.”

Students returned after the break to another Dining Services tradition – the annual Gingerbread Contest. One hundred teams of four students competed to see who would create the most impressive structure in two hours. The completed houses were displayed under the Davison Christmas tree and the Anselmian community voted for their favorite. Team Gingersnaps won for their gingerbread Davison Hall, teams Merry Holly Christmas and Fr. Matthias & the Monks placed second and third with their depictions of fall picnic and a band of monks playing in front of Alumni Hall. Another team recreated the Red Arrow Diner and received gift cards from the diner as a thank you.

“We truly enjoyed hosting this year’s Annual Gingerbread completion complete with festive decor, holiday attire and the shareable memories with the Saint Anslem College community,” said Sanad Abukeir, marketing specialist for Saint Anselm dining services.

Traditions continued throughout the week with the beloved Christmas Feast, the blessing of the Nativity outside of the Roger and Francine Jean Student Center, and the annual faculty and staff holiday door decorating competition.

“My favorite holiday tradition at St. A’s is the annual Christmas Feast! Seeing Davison Hall transformed and decorated into the Christmas season puts everyone in the holiday spirit, explained Mikhaela Daniels ’22. “Students dress up and enjoy an amazing meal all together! I love being a part of this unique tradition here at Saint Anselm College!”

The week of festivities ended with the annual DecemberSong in the Abbey Church on Saturday, Dec. 4. The Saint Anselm College Choir sang various chants, carols, and choral anthems associated with the seasons of Advent of Christmas interspersed with scripture.

“Aside from the Hallelujah Chorus, which is always a highlight of the evening, I'll always remember the presence of the graduating class of 2021 as they came to join their colleagues,” shared Eric Bermani, director of liturgical music and the college choir. “We thought it was very important to include '21 since they did not have the opportunity to partake in this glorious evening their senior year.”

While students finished their finals and began to return to their homes for winter break, additional advent and Christmas celebrations continued. Campus Ministry provided daily advent reflections for students, and the Office of Alumni Relations offered a daily countdown to Christmas to engage alumni in the season.


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