Students, faculty share Christmas traditions

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Students, faculty share Christmas traditions

Many come to enjoy the Christmas Lights on BJU's campus in Greenville, SC, December 6, 2019. (Hal Cook)

As Charlie Brown and friends once sang, “Christmastime is here.” For many Bob Jones University students this means a chance to recall time-honored traditions with friends and family. 

Many BJU students observe traditions related to holiday foods.  For instance, Ben Koestner, a sophomore IT major, said that his mother has a special oatmeal recipe she uses only for Christmas morning breakfast. This special oatmeal features raspberry jam and ginger sauce.

Isaac Slayton, a senior Bible major, said his family makes a special Christmas punch by mixing 7UP, Hawaiian Punch and orange juice concentrate. Caleb Goetz, a senior international studies major, said that his great grandmother, who is descended from Swedish nobility, makes homemade Swedish meatballs. Dr. Mark Vowels, chair of the Division of Ministries, said that his family eats a traditionally large Cuban Christmas dinner with roast pork for the main course.

Other students follow traditions related to gift-giving.  Jesse Yancey, a graduate assistant, said that his family hides a present for each person in the family in different places around their property. They then follow clues in a homemade scavenger hunt leading to the present.

Several BJU residents, including Dr. Vowels and senior engineering major Maverick Cowland, open one small gift with their families on Christmas Eve. Many of the favorite activities enjoyed by BJU students at Christmas center around family time.

Many students like to put up and decorate full-sized Christmas trees with their families. Some said that their families also make an event out of finding and cutting down a live tree at a tree farm.

Sam Veira, a junior journalism and mass communication major, said that her family sets up a tiny tree in different places around their house and decorates it with Beanie Babies, doll toys and other small accessories. 

Several students said that they gather with extended family for Christmas. This can include grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and the spouses of siblings. Jed King, a senior history major, said his extended family holds yearly reunions at Christmas. Tabitha Leaman, a junior journalism and mass communication major, said her family eats a potluck-style meal with a family from their church and goes caroling afterward. 

Sid Silvester, a faculty member in the BJU Division of English and Literature, also said that family time at Christmas is important. Silvester said before his children grew up, Christmas included family trips to the beach at Hilton Head. Other years included trips to Disney World, where he and his wife celebrated their honeymoon during Christmas break 1979. 

Silvester said that his family’s Christmas now includes opening presents with his children and grandchildren, an informal dinner with family and friends and board games. Silvester said, “[Our Christmas is] not particularly exotic or idiosyncratic, though no less memorable or delightful for all that.”

Vowels said his family traditions include making waffles on Christmas morning, reading the Christmas account in Luke 2 and singing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus around a cake with one candle.

Many BJU students said they enjoy watching classic Christmas movies with their families. The most commonly watched among these include It’s a Wonderful Life, White Christmas and A Charlie Brown Christmas.