The wreaths around campus signal two important things for Bowdoin: winter break approaches and finals draw ever nearer. For some, the holiday season may come with little spiritual connection, perhaps just a red Starbucks cup of coffee, but for others, the holidays start earlier and have significant meaning for their faith.
To celebrate traditions important to its members’ faith, Bowdoin’s Catholic Student Union is teaming up with the Christian Student Association to host a Christmas party on December 10 at 8 p.m. at 24 College. The event is sponsored by the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life, which allows the two groups to circumvent the College’s rule that as of December 9, programming by groups on campus is prohibited.
“It’s going to be an hour of Christmas music, stories, hot chocolate and desserts” said Director of the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life Eduardo Pazos.
“We [will] read the Christmas story,” said Viviane Kostin ’19, leader of the Catholic Student Union. “We’re going to be reading a children’s version of the Christmas story because they’re nostalgic, and also children’s books do a great job taking the gospel.”
Kostin acknowledged that Bowdoin is very diverse in its religious celebrations, but noted that this is an opportunity for students to participate in holiday celebrations unique to Christmas and to partake in traditions that may serve as a reminder of home, or may be entirely new to them.
“All students are welcome to attend,” Pazos said.
For many people, it is still a weird feeling to be separated from their families leading up to, or during, the holiday season.
“Holidays are traditionally a time to really be with family” said Kostin. “It’s harder to be in touch with the traditions on campus partially because some of our biggest Christmas traditions, or Advent traditions, like decorating the Christmas tree or lighting the Advent wreath are against ResLife policy.”
There are other ways that students are able to partake in their religious traditions, though. Throughout the semester many Catholic students carpool to masses at nearby churches. Usually, a fairly large group of students attend holy days of obligation. This month, students at mass will light the Advent wreath, an important part of the Catholic faith.
Students on campus have been known to recreate these traditions in small ways to make themselves feel at home in their dorms.
“I know friends who have the little Advent calendars in their room. Those are more like re-creations. Little bits of what it’s like to be at home,” Kostin said.
The expectations for the Christmas party are high. Both the Catholic Student Union and the Christian Student Association anticipate a sizeable attendance for the event.
“I’m expecting our biggest turnout Monday. For our events, every once in a while we’ll host a really big talk and the room will be packed, but usually, it’s small; it’s humble,” Kostin said.