On Monday, Dec. 9, 2019, the Catholic Newman Club got festive at their Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony in the Miron Student Center Atrium. Students were able to wear festive accessories and enjoy treats while celebrating the holiday spirit.
Complimentary frozen hot chocolates and pretzels were provided by Auntie Anne's.
"This was an opportunity for us to come together and light the tree," said Jessica Onorati, vice president of the Catholic Newman Club. "We read a part of the nativity to get ready for the season."
When asked about the impact of the event, Onorati felt that it was challenging to put together.
"We had to reschedule the event because of the previous snowstorm," continued Onorati.
"There weren't that many people as we anticipated, but this was a good way to get everyone ready for the Christmas season and enjoy the fellowship of others," Onorati said.
Christmas trees have a significant history dating to the use of evergreens in ancient Egypt and Rome. Many people during that time believed the sun was a deity, and that whenever winter would come, that deity would fall ill.
The solstice was celebrated because it gave people a sign that the sun god was recovering from its illness. Evergreens reminded them of all the plants that would come back to life once summer returned.
Germany is known for beginning the Christmas tree tradition in the 16th century, when Christians would bring decorated trees into their homes. The tradition came to America in the 1800s.
According to History.com, people from ancient times hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. It was believed that evergreens kept away evil spirits, illness and ghosts by different cultures.
Tree lighting ceremonies are commonplace all over the world, with one of the notable ones being in Rockefeller Center in New York. The first tree at the center was placed in 1931 during the Great Depression.
"We prayed over the tree to ensure it was blessed, hanging with ornaments which were made from the ornament making party," said Jennifer Garza, president of the Catholic Newman Club.
The ornaments were made a week prior to the event by the club, at an ornament making party.
When asked about the ornaments, Garza explained how the club started making them.
"We had the materials for everyone to make ornaments, which were blank," continued Garza. "There [was] confetti, markers, plastic spheres and star-shaped ornaments, which were all used to be hanged for the event."
Garza felt that students learned more about the readings of nativity the club presented, helping them to stay in spirit.
The Catholic Newman Club provides Kean University with a supportive community for Catholics on campus, along with educational programs on Catholic and Christian values, through fellowship, community service and the continuous exploration of faith while striving to integrate its religious values with college life. More information about the club can be found on Cougar Link. They can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.