A New SLU Christmas Tradition


James Coyne

On Saturday, Dec. 2, Saint Louis University hosted its inaugural “Christmas on the Quad,” a Christmas themed event that took place from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., opening with Mass at St. Francis Xavier College Church and a homily that focused on advent, forgiveness and giving. After the mass, the festivities moved over to the quad, where a variety of activities were present.

With a multitude of stations— such as an inflatable bounce house, fires for s’mores, a bubble machine and face painting— there was plenty for both the young and old of SLU’s community.

Also in attendance were three important guests. The first was Santa, found wandering throughout the quad, taking photos with students and children alike. Mrs. Claus also attended, sitting within the Historic Samuel Cupples House, reading Christmas books to children. Lastly, Dr. Pestello was present, mingling and interacting with guests as they sipped hot chocolate and ate cookies.

The highlight of the night was the lighting of the Christmas tree in the middle of the quad. Covered in lights and settled between two fake snow generators, with a Nativity scene in front of it, the University Christmas Tree was what everyone gathered around in the darkness. Candles were passed out though the crowd, and everyone waited for the lighting of the tree.

“It’s the hope that tonight is the beginning of a new holiday tradition here at SLU,” Tony Minor, the assistant vice president of alumni & donor engagement said while beginning the tree lighting ceremony.

“A tradition that brings our entire SLU family together, our alumni, our students, our faculty and our staff.” Also speaking before the lighting of the tree was Dr. Pestello and Father Collins, who discussed SLU’s history and bicentennial along with the upcoming advent season and what that meant for the University.

As Father Collins began to speak, he commented that “Lots of people have a lot of aggression and anger, even, in their lives that they get weighed down by, and it just seems like it continues to escalate. And it’s exactly in that context, I think, that we come together for real, in friendship, to offer something different to the world.”

To begin the lighting of the University Christmas Tree, Father Collins and Dr. Pestello gathered all of the young children present into a group before the Nativity scene. Slowly, they began to light the candles that each child was holding, as the whole community prayed in the silence. The lit candles were used to light the candles of others, until everyone present stood with a lit candle and prayed for others. Breaking the silence, the choir began to sing, and the tree was lit.

As Dr. Pestello closed the ceremony and children took the chance to play within the falling fake snow, the choir broke into song as people began to disperse into the festivities, and a new SLU tradition was born.

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