It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year at Olivet

Olivet celebrates the Christmas traditions of the past and present
Hannah Priest headshot

Hannah Priest

November 25, 2019 Campus Life

As the faculty, staff and students of Olivet Nazarene University wrap up the first semester of the year, there is a joy in the air as the anticipation of Christmas grows. Buildings across campus begin to adorn the halls with holiday decorations and festivities fill the weeks leading up to Christmas break.


During this season, Olivet remembers and celebrates Christmas traditions of past and present that have helped to create community across campus.


University archivist, Tina Simmons reflects on the importance of celebrating Christmas traditions even though campus is closed during the holiday. “I have heard it said that ‘The door to the future swings on the hinges of the past,’” she says. “Our Olivet Christmas traditions give people a sense of belonging and comfort on campus.”

A Christmas Feast
This holiday tradition of Christmas past was a way for students to gather in Ludwig Center to enjoy delicious food and wonderful company.


Faculty and staff would also partake in a feast of their own. The staff party was traditionally held in the president’s office and offered a time of community and celebration. Each staff member was given a box complete with a turkey and all of the food trimmings



Sounds of the Season and Handel’s Messiah
These holiday traditions showcase the talent within the School of Music.

The Messiah, first performed at Olivet in 1936 is a tradition nearly as old as Olivet itself. The music features scriptural text following the life of Christ. The Messiah features a full symphonic orchestra as well as combined choirs and selected soloists.


The Sounds of the Season concert highlights representatives of every music ensemble on campus in a glee-filled performance of classic holiday music. 



Oh, Christmas Tree!
Another Olivet tradition of the past was the ceremonial lighting of a tree on campus. The large evergreen tree was a magnificent display and was one of the largest lighted trees within the surrounding area.


Before Christmas tree lighting tradition began, Olivetians used to gather for a Christmas bonfire.


While the evergreen no longer exists on campus, students have continued hosting their own tree trimming parties in the dorms. 

The Christmas Party
Over the years, Olivet has hosted a campus-wide Christmas celebration. While many departmental groups and student clubs across campus have individual parties, this all-school event provides a time for students to enjoy music, food and time together before departing for Christmas break.


This holiday party traditionally was hosted in Ludwig Center but moved to the Perry Student Life and Recreation Center in 2018 to give students more space to enjoy all the event has to offer.


While the event began as a more formal affair, it has since become more casual. However, the high levels of excitement and holiday cheer have remained the same over the years. 


Research and photography courtesy of Tina Simmons and the University Archives

For more information about student life at Olivet, contact the Office of Admissions at or 800-648-1463.

Published 11/26/19

Hannah Priest headshot

Hannah Priest

Hannah Priest ’21/’22 MBA is passionate about people and sharing their stories. After graduating from Olivet with a degree in Public Relations and Strategic Communications, she has found much joy in serving as the associate director of Alumni and University Relations at Olivet and a freelance writer. In her role, she has the ability to celebrate the accomplishments of those in the Olivet community and share stories of their meaningful experiences from their time at ONU and beyond. Outside of her work at Olivet, she is also a feature editor for SPLENDEUR magazine, an up-and-coming small business aimed at encouraging, equipping and empowering women to find their God-given purpose in whatever season of life they are in.

Student on main campus wearing pink sweater and holding water bottle.

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