Continuing the tradition … Merry Christmas, Villanova

Katherine Silkaitis

Wednesday’s tree lighting ceremony once again kicked off the Christmas season on campus. The Villanova tradition of Merry Christmas Villanova Week, which is planned by the Special Events committee of the Campus Activities Team, has now been ringing in the holidays for decades.

With the addition of new festivities each year, “the event just evolves into more activities,” said junior Kate McNamara, the group’s special events coordinator. “This year the planning was really opened up to CAT’s Special Events committee. They really just went away with it.”

The week began on Wednesday night with the tree lighting ceremony in front of Dougherty Hall. With the talented Villanova Singers and the words of University President Rev. Edward Dobbin, O.S.A., “The ceremony was a true representation of the immense enthusiasm that all Villanovans possess,” junior Erin Sykes said.

Those in attendance had a chance to participate in the celebration when candles were handed out and a flame was passed along, until all of the candles were lit. “It’s just a way to spread the unity … It’s such a unifying experience,” said senior Deborah Rothamel, vice president of CAT human resources.

While the Dougherty tree is only adorned in lights, the tree that stands inside the entrance of the Connelly Center is decorated with handmade ornaments that campus organizations have created. “[The ornament tradition] was started last year to raise money for charity over the Christmas se- son,”McNamara said. “It really brings the community together because all of the organizations are invited to take part in making an ornament.”

Many of the activities throughout the week revolve around making donations to charities; this year much of the money will go the American Cancer Society. “We wanted a way where the students could give something either through donations or making ornaments,” McNamara said. “It just allows students to give back what they were taught and help someone else out.”

During the first half of the celebration, students also participated in Thursday’s gingerbread house making night and the cookie sale. On Saturday, students who purchased tickets will board buses to spend the day in New York City. “I’ve never been to the city, but I’ve heard great things about it,” junior Natasha Bunch said. “I’m excited about seeing the Christmas tree, lights and decorations on the streets … and most of all, the great big toy stores.”

On Tuesday and Wednesday next week, holiday movies will be shown in the Connelly Center Cinema. Also on Tuesday night, a new Christmas Pajama Party will take place in the West Lounge of Dougherty Hall. “It is just a relaxing, fun night during the last week of classes,” McNamara said. “Just come in some comfy pajamas to unwind with food, music and movies.” There will also be a raffle to win guys’ and girls’ Christmas stockings.

Merrigrams — reindeer candy canes with a card attached — will be available all week to send to friends on campus. Although there is no charge, there will be a box for donations to the American Cancer Society. “When looking for activities, we try to keep in mind that it’s a community celebration,” McNamara said. “We work together to get everyone on campus involved in some aspect to have fun and enjoy the Christmas holiday.”

In addition to the events available to students, some have bigger and grander activities in mind. “I would really like to see some fake snow on Sheehan Beach and have a big snowman building contest,” junior Ryan Swango suggested. “That would really get me in the holiday spirit.”

Even though Merry Christmas Villanova Week is meant to put all Villanovans in the holiday mood, the week may have more significance for freshmen. “I think it helps them feel more at home and give them a break from studying and to be with friends,” McNamara said.

Freshman Claudia Piazza agrees that the week has special meaning for first-year students. “Events like the pajama party, the gingerbread house making and the movies will really help us join with our Villanova friends at the start of the season and bring the spirit onto campus.”