As the ghost of Christmases past reminds Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol”, Christmases in the past often leave large impacts on the future.
Christmas at Maryville College has always been a time of festivities and gathering with friends. From the performance of Handel’s Messiah to the nice Christmas Break students get during the Holidays, students have found ways to celebrate the season since the founding of the College.
In the 1930’s, the MC Y.M.C.A and Y.W.C.A. put on a Christmas play that was apparently quite the show. In the 1930 edition of the Chilhowean, the college’s yearbook, senior Cora Louise Carbon proudly lists her participation in the Christmas play within the list of accomplishments under her name and photograph.
The Theta Epsilon Literary Society women of 1942 displayed their generosity in the Chilhowean as they raised money to provide a local family with a bountiful meal at Thanksgiving and Christmas. This group, founded in 1894 as a focal point for extracurricular activities, also hosted yearly Christmas parties that sported a different theme every year.
In 1933, the MC music department began putting on an annual performance of Handel’s “Messiah” each Christmas in which all choral departments gather with alumni and members of the community. Beginning as an annual event comprising over 200 students, the performance has since been moved to every four years.
Looking to Christmases present, new generations of students have new ways to celebrate the holiday.
“It was hysterical,” said Meghan Fagg, class of 2010, as she recounted how a group of her classmates used to dress in bed sheets to reenact the nativity scene.”
“It was really funny because the majority of the members of the nativity scene are male, so the group of girls would all cover their heads and faces with the sheets,” said Fagg.
Tony Lopez, class of 2018, has a bit of a different experience in reference to nativity scenes.
“Every year at Christmas, my family goes outside to collect sand and moss to make a nativity scene for our house,” Lopez said.
Lopez smiles as he explains how the tradition works in his household.
“We put the nativity scene in a corner of our living room and move all of the regular furniture to make room for it,” said Lopez. “Every year, a different member of the family gets to choose the corner. I always chose the corner that required us to move the most furniture.”
Claudia Pires, an international student from Cape Verde, Africa and a member of the class of 2019, recounted the traditions her family enjoys.
“We are bigger and louder [than most American families],” said Pires, with a smile at her close-knit family.
“We all go to grandma’s house for Christmas,” said Pires. “We have a lot of pies, cakes, and traditional dishes. Afterwards, we all go out onto the porch to sing together.”
Amber Nejme, class of 2016, also gathers with family during the Christmas holiday.
“We all go to my aunt’s house on Christmas Eve where we each get to open one present,” said Nejme.
Dr. Eric Simpson, director of the Maryville College Community Band and lecturer for MC laughed as he explained what Christmas was like growing up in Florida.
“My dad was convinced, had the Pilgrims landed in Florida, we all would have been eating seafood every Thanksgiving and Christmas instead of turkey!” said Simpson. “Because of that, we always ate lobster and seafood gumbo as our Christmas meal.”
Though this year’s Christmas festivities will likely be quite different from those of students’ past, Maryville College students and alumni keep finding ways to put the happiness in the season.