On a surprisingly warm December night, William & Mary students stepped away from their textbooks and notes and papers to enjoy a time honored tradition that signifies the holiday season and the ending of another year: the annual Yule Log ceremony.
With torches ablaze and students huddled close to one another, the courtyard of the Wren building was aglow with the spirit of the holiday season.
The annual Yule Log ceremony features a little bit of something for everyone, be that music or holiday stories or the rich history of the tradition.
In addition to the stories and songs, students receive the opportunity to reflect on the past year, and look forward to the bright future ahead.
The event, which is sponsored by honor societies Mortar Board and Omicron Delta Kappa, provides a space for students and faculty alike to embrace the holiday spirit.
This year in particular the organizers of the event were successful in making the seasonal joy a possibility despite the atypical weather, which at 6 p.m. was just shy of 70 degrees.
Senior Sean Plummer said he was grateful for the work of the event’s organizers, especially in light of the uniquely warm weather.
“It felt like ‘Christmas in July’…in December,” remarked Plummer, “but the choir and the Gentlemen and Reveley all managed to put us in the holiday spirit.”
While the event features several different readings and performances, such as the annual reading of “’Twas the Night After Finals” by Ginger Ambler, vice president of student affairs, students consistently showed their excitement for one particular aspect of the evening: W&M President Taylor Reveley’s reading of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
Fully clad in a Santa costume, Reveley captivated the audience as he told the tale of the creature with a heart two sizes too small.
In addition to Reveley’s appearance as Santa, students had the chance to enjoy the melodies of one of the oldest a capella groups on campus, The Gentlemen of the College.
At the ceremony, representatives from William & Mary’s Mortar Board and Omicron Delta Kappa provided students with the historical background of the Yule Log, giving a glimpse into the rich history of W&M and of the Yule Log tradition itself.
“Yule Log truly demonstrates the passion and excitement that William & Mary students, faculty, alums and even the Williamsburg community have when it comes to tradition, said Vanessa Duffie ’16. “Students even schedule to go home the day after so they can be around to attend Yule Log.”
For many students Yule Log marks the ending of the year and the opportunity to start fresh when returning to campus in January.
Students are provided with twigs of holly to toss into the fireplace of the Great Hall, signifying the release of the woes of the past year.
For seniors, Yule Log serves as one of the first “last” traditions of their collegiate experience, and often holds extra sentimental value.
“Yule Log may be the same every year, but it's a heartwarming tradition you can't miss,” Bradley Baeuchler ’16 said. “Not only do you have an excuse to free yourself from the clutches of Earl Gregg, but you get spend quality holiday time with President Reveley and hundreds of your closest friends.”
At the conclusion of the event, students had a chance to enjoy cider and cookies, provided by William & Mary Dining, before returning to their respective study spaces to finish out the academic year.