At Valparaiso University, there is a lot of anticipation, and maybe a little bit of stress, in the air with finals just around the corner.
Thankfully, students got to breathe a sigh of relief just before the final push to end the semester. Students and members of the Valparaiso community got to enjoy the warm feeling of the holiday season as they gathered together for the University's’ annual tree lighting this Tuesday.
Guests gathered in the Harre Student Union, where they got to experience a feeling that Christmas was right around the corner. All who attended got to enjoy the holiday cookies and drinks while sharing a few laughs with their loved ones. Kids got a chance to decorate their cookies and to get a quick photo with Santa Claus. Right before the lighting of the tree, everyone came together for a quick prayer. After the lights came on, everyone got into the Christmas spirit with some caroling.
“Events like these are always a lot of fun. It’s one of those unique times we can get all the students and faculty together to celebrate,” said Cassie Hopkins, director of university events. “We love to kick off the holiday season this way, and bring everyone here a little closer together.”
The events in Harre were not the only ones set for the evening. Right after the lighting ceremony, guests could head into The Chapel of Resurrection for the first Christmas concert of the year. With the end of the semester looming, and finals on the horizon, Valparaiso wanted to make sure everyone feels like they are at home when they are here.
“I think this is a great event for everyone,” said Ryan Bye, associate director of events and a current student. “It gives everyone a sense of community and home outside of where they come from. It shows we are one big community and we celebrate the holidays together.”
Holidays are a time for fun, cheer, and, of course, gifts. One important thing that should never be forgotten though is that the holidays are about family and bringing people together. Valparaiso University President Mark Heckler wants the school to spread the same message.
“Tonight, we commemorate the beginning of a very special, Spirit-filled season, one of the most beloved in the Christian faith,” Heckler said. “Yet, we know that the Valpo community includes people from myriad backgrounds and faith traditions. Regardless of your faith or nationality, the Christmas season is a time of celebration, community, joy, peace, love, and goodwill — a time to rejoice in the many blessings we share."
There are a lot of things to keep in mind during the holiday season. President Heckler thinks there is one important thing no one in this community should forget - that we are all stronger as a community together.
“In anticipation of lighting this Christmas tree, I think of our University motto: ‘In thy light we see light.’ God’s light surrounds us this evening,” Heckler said. “Each member of the Valpo community spreads that light throughout the world. We know a single light could not illuminate this tree, and the light within each one of us is stronger when we unite and commit to a common goal: to pursue truth, serve generously, and cultivate hope. May the light within you guide you and transform the lives of those around you."