Beginning on campus in the days after Thanksgiving, the preparations for the celebration of Christmas become all the more obvious as times goes by. The bright lights illuminate the darkness that comes so early in December. Dorms get decked out with a variety of decorations. The Main Building first floor hallway features evergreen garlands and wreaths, filling the corridor with a wonderful scent. Christmas trees appear in various places all over campus. The general sense of festivity begins on campus and is carried home by SLS students who partake in a variety of their own particular Christmas traditions.
Christmas at SLS
For many decades, the seminary community has followed the traditions of the season that are familiar to anyone, such as decorating trees in dorms, exchanging Secret Santa gifts or lighting an Advent Wreath. Most of the students and many staff members take part in buying Christmas gifts for children as part of the Angel Tree Program. Others wrap the gifts, which are delivered to families by still other students. The annual Christmas Banquet is widely anticipated. The annual Christmas Concert, featuring the SLS band and choir, is the culmination of many weeks of preparation. This particular tradition draws many parents and alumni, filling the chapel to overflowing. Perhaps most anticipated is the long Christmas vacation towards the end of December, when students can enjoy some quality family time during the holiday season and undoubtedly participate in some of their own family traditions.
Traditions at Home
The varied SLS student body shared some of the traditions their respective families observe during Christmas. Of course, many students related that their families attended Mass and opened presents. A few, however, have unique family traditions. Senior Jacob Koehler related that his family follows a German tradition. Each family member opens one gift on Christmas Eve, followed by a Christmas dinner of knödel (dumplings), ham and sauerbraten (a traditional German pot roast). On Christmas Day, his family attends Mass, has breakfast and then opens the rest of their gifts.
On the other hand, sophomore Christian Orozco said, “Christmas is a time when my family socializes with other families. We usually exchange gifts and have a huge feast of traditional food like tamales, posole and mole. Another tradition we follow is at midnight on New Year’s Eve, everyone eats 12 grapes for good luck.”
Senior Anthony Le said his family enjoys time together opening gifts and going to Mass. Sophomore Cameron Vue said, “We have phở (Vietnamese noodle soup) and a lot of other food.” Junior Franklin Fisher said that his family traditionally visits his grandparents on Christmas Day and the day after Christmas, the family goes bowling together. Danny Draftz, also a sophomore, related that his family lights an Advent Wreath throughout Advent and, if they are able, attends Midnight Mass or an earlier Mass on Christmas Eve. The whole family gets up early Christmas morning and, while still in pajamas, they open gifts.
Yet other students related what most families have experienced over the years, that their major Christmas tradition revolves around attending Mass, exchanging gifts, having large meals and enjoying the company of many members of their immediate and distant family.
Throughout the school year, there are many special celebrations and traditions followed on campus or by the student body. But Christmas holds a unique place in the calendar. It has its own music, decorations, symbols, celebrating the remarkable story of the birth of Jesus. No matter the individual traditions followed by the members of the SLS community, the joy and hope of the Christmas season pervades every heart and family.
St. Lawrence Seminary is an all boys Catholic boarding school located in Mt. Calvary, Wisconsin. We welcome students from Minnesota, Illinois and across the United States. Inspired by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the example of St. Francis of Assisi, St. Lawrence Seminary provides a residential college preparatory education in a living Catholic community nurturing mature, well-rounded men of faith. See if St. Lawrence is right for you and your son.