University Celebrates the Start of Christmas Season with Tree Lighting


The Christmas tree can be seen outside the Oreo.

Julia Butch, Staff Writer

Villanova students, faculty and families gathered in the heart of campus on Friday to enjoy the annual tree lighting ceremony, one of the time-honored highlights of the Christmas season.


The event, which was led by University President Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A., Ph.D., included music from the Villanova Voices Women’s Choir and the Villanova Singers Men’s Choir. Those in attendance also enjoyed hot cocoa, pictures with Santa and the warmth of many fire pits. 


Keeping with tradition, Fr. Peter delivered a speech and prayer for the community before hitting the button to illuminate the nearly 50-foot tree, which is adorned with silver and blue ornaments. This year, he invited the daughter of a staff member to read the story of Jesus’ birth. Onlookers met the reading with reverence and appreciation. Fr. Peter also delivered a blessing for the children and invited them to help him light the tree. 


“What a festive and upbeat way to ring in my favorite liturgical season,” said choir director Ted Latham. “Fr. Peter and his staff strike just the right blend of fun and prayerful reflection for holiday events like this. The decorations have never looked better, the 50-voice choir of Singers and Voices sounded amazing. The line for photo ops with Santa stretched all the way from the Ellipse to the Church, and the new light show, hot chocolate, and festive tent igloos were a great addition.”


“Voices loves singing at the Christmas Tree lighting every year,” Villanova Voices President Rachel Jordan said. “It’s so great to help the school get into the holiday spirit with a few Christmas carols. Being able to see the students and local families celebrate the holiday makes this an event we look forward to singing at every year.”


Latham noted that there is more to look forward to in the coming days.


“Now, I can’t wait for Lessons and Carols on Tuesday at 7:30 [p.m.] in the Church, and the Pastorals’ ‘There Can Be Miracles’ concert on Wednesday at 7 [p.m.],” he said. “What a joyful time to be a Villanovan.”


For the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, University President, the annual tree lighting is a welcome kickoff to the Christmas season, combining fun, tradition, and the blessed observation of the Nativity.”

“Our annual Christmas Tree Lighting has become a wonderful tradition for all members of the Villanova community and their families to come together to start the blessed Christmas holiday,” he said. “It was wonderful to see so many students, faculty, staff, neighbors and community members in attendance to celebrate the joy of the holiday season, and it’s the perfect way to commence Merry Christmas Villanova Week.”