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Yule Log, Charter Day, winter graduate recognition to be held virtually

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    A holiday tradition:  The Yule Log Ceremony is traditionally held each December, shortly before the end of final exams. The student body fills the Wren Courtyard and the Yule log is carried through the crowd, lit in the fireplace of the Great Hall, where students line up to toss ceremonial sprigs of holly into the fire for good luck. This year the tradition will be held virtually.  Photo by Nicholas Meyer '22
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Three annual traditions will be conducted in a new format as William & Mary adapts to public health guidelines to safeguard against COVID-19.

Yule Log, Charter Day and winter graduate recognition will all be held virtually, the university announced this week. Virtual Yule Log will be held Saturday, Dec. 12, and will encompass many of its classic holiday traditions, along with a few new traditions that can be done from home.

A virtual winter graduate recognition event will take place on Jan. 22, 2021, after all winter graduates have had their degrees conferred. The program will include brief remarks from the president of the senior class, the president of the Graduate Council, W&M President Katherine A. Rowe and W&M Alumni Association CEO Marilyn W. Midyette ’75.

The university will celebrate Charter Day on the evening of Feb. 11, 2021 with a virtual ceremony. This year will mark the 328th anniversary of the granting of William & Mary's charter by the British Crown. The virtual ceremony will include many of the ceremony’s traditional elements: the conferral of honorary degrees, a student reflection on the charter and an a cappella “Happy Birthday” mash-up. The university is also planning a day of festivities on campus for February 12. 

“The thing that I’m most excited about is all the creative ideas that different individuals have brought to the table, so that we can keep that sense of community and togetherness that William & Mary traditions bring out,” said Helen Tariku ’21, who serves on the planning committee.

The Charter Day celebration will continue after the ceremony, with an afternoon of activities, both virtual and across campus, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Feb. 12. 

“The 2021 Charter Day ceremony celebrating the university’s 328th anniversary will be a first,” said Michael Fox, senior assistant to the president and member of the Charter Day Committee. “It will be convened virtually by President Katherine Rowe to celebrate that legacy all over the globe and will be a testament to the dedication and perseverance of the William & Mary community, which has rallied to overcome extraordinary obstacles this year. The Charter Day Committee is taking a ‘both / and’ approach to planning, embracing the cherished pomp and reflections and also adding a day of fun on campus – virtually and in person, as much as the pandemic will permit at that time.”

More information will be forthcoming and made available at