Students, faculty, and staff will come together to celebrate in community during the first-ever Wittenberg Tree Lighting event on Thursday, Dec. 2, and again for “Illuminating the Class of 2025” event sponsored by the First Year Seminar (FYS) on Tuesday, Dec. 7.
The tree lighting will take place on Chapel Lawn and Alumni Way from 4-6 p.m. with the official tree lighting at 5:30 p.m. In the event of rain, the event will move to Founders in the Benham-Pence Student Center. Holiday music will be provided by acapella groups Just Eve and the Wittmen Crew and the Wittenberg Cheer team will keep the event festive. Other activities will include a ‘reindeer’ petting station featuring Wittenberg 4Paws pups dressed up like Santa’s reindeer, a snowflake decorating station hosted by the Wittenberg Art League, a make-your-own reindeer chow station with Chex Mix, chocolate, and other treats, and a make-your-own Christmas ornament area. Hot beverages and refreshments will also be available.
“Wittenberg has always been defined by its commitment to community-building, and this event reflects that,” said Brandee Bates Kern, director of donor experience and stewardship, who is helping to plan the event. “Lighting a tree together also reflects our beloved motto, ‘Having light we pass it on to others.’”
Warm refreshments of hot chocolate and coffee will also be offered at the second-annual illumination event that will take place in Myers Hollow at 6:30 p.m. FYS students will decorate luminary bags during class time with their fondest memories so far of Wittenberg before placing the bags along both sides of the pathway leading from the Fountain to the Campus Seal to Myers Hall and also across from Recitation Hall. Classes should meet at 6:15 p.m. in preparation for the lighting of the luminaries. They will then join together for fellowship and refreshments to take in the beauty the luminaries provide.
A short introduction will formally kick off the event in the Hollow, and event instructions will be provided at that time. Groups will then move to their areas to begin the lighting ceremony. Students will join members of the faculty and staff to pass a lighting device and ‘illuminate’ each light in the bags until all luminaries are lit. President Mike Frandsen will pass the first light to begin the ceremony.
The event represents the culmination of FYS students’ first year of college and how even during challenging times, light can shine and be shared with others.
“In this new tradition, we are physically passing our light like Wittenberg's motto states, 'Having light we pass it on to others,'” said Amy McGuffey, associate professor of education and director of FYS, who initiated the idea with assistance from Alyssa Hoofnagle, assistant professor of mathematics who also serves on the FYS Advisory Board. “We are both alumni and thought this would be a great tradition for the Class of 2024 to start last year. The luminary bags were selected because the students will be able to decorate them to represent the best parts of their first year at Wittenberg. Students will light their candle and then ‘pass the light’ to the next person.”
All students and FYS teams will be receiving a special mug with a drawing representative of the illuminating event designed by Owen McGuffey, class of 2024 from Saint Paris, Ohio, who is majoring in business management and minoring in entrepreneurship.
Looking ahead, be sure to mark the calendar for another traditional holiday favorite at Wittenberg that involves ‘light’ – the annual Lessons and Carols for Advent and Christmas. Offering a time of music and reflection as the Advent season unfolds, Lessons and Carols will take place on Dec. 9 and again on Dec. 10 in historic Weaver Chapel. The event will run twice this year in adherence with COVID-19 protocols and the need to limit the number of people attending the performance to 400 each day. Ticketed by Event Brite to help monitor capacity, the doors open at 6:45 p.m. each day with pre-service music followed by the service at 7:30 p.m. As in previous years, each service will conclude with a candlelit singing of “Silent Night.”
All attendees and participants will be required to wear a mask. Tickets are free, but required and can be obtained here.