The holidays are both a cheerful and stressful time for many college students. With finals just around the corner, many are getting in last-minute studying while also trying to get in any final gift purchases and attend festive events. To make it a bit easier to step away from any holiday and finals stress, Monmouth has adopted some long-lasting holiday traditions and there are often many events for students to get into the holiday spirit.
There are many ways in which the University gets ready to celebrate the holidays. Amy Bellina, the Director of Student Activities and Student Center Operations said, “One of the things that our office does is have the Student Center decorated shortly after Thanksgiving.” From decorations to events, Monmouth has many opportunities to get involved in the festivities.
Some continuing traditions include club-sponsored programs such as Diwali, a program for Kwanzaa, the Menorah lighting, and many Christmas-themed and winter-themed events. “Club sponsored programs usually start in November and run to the end of fall classes,” Bellina said. “Some things may be a little different this year as they were last year depending on COVID precautions, but at this point, I know a number of the activities are happening this semester.”
Monmouth has many events that promote inclusivity during the holiday season, including the Outdoor Chanukah Menorah Lighting that took place on Monday, Nov. 29. In true holiday fashion, there were festive treats and many came together regardless of their religious affiliation. Kinneret Kanik, President of Chabad Club, gave some insight on the holiday of Hanukkah and the meaning behind the lighting on the Menorah.
“Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day celebration showcasing the resilience and strength of the Jewish Nation. The focus of the festivities is to appreciate that no matter how dark, cold, and alone it may seem, light your inner spark,” Kinneret said. “Lighting the Menorah with our President, Patrick Leahy, is a statement that all people, regardless of religion, culture, or ethnicity, can coexist peacefully.”
Many students look forward to the holidays as a season of giving. Some are excited to give back to their families and even communities that are in need. The Student Government Association, or SGA, hosts the annual Giving Tree and many clubs and departments hold their own food, clothing, and/or toy drives. This allows Monmouth students to get into the spirit of giving, even on a busy schedule.
Maria Monzon, SGA’s president, studying Business Administration with a concentration in International Business said, “Over the years, the Giving Tree has expanded and developed into a campus-wide event, allowing Monmouth University to support more children than years prior,” adding that they are thankful for the endless support shown by students, faculty and staff. Monzon highlighted other on-campus holiday traditions including the Nest Thanksgiving food drive where they collect and distribute food to those struggling with food insecurities.
With increasing stress during the last stretch of the semester, there are many ways to get involved but also take a break with festive things to do on campus. Many like to indulge in a holiday drink and treat from the Dunkin’ Donuts on campus or even just enjoy the scenery of campus during the holiday season. There are often many opportunities to get jolly in a pinch with events such as Home for the Holidays Bingo, trips off campus to various movies, plays, and events, as well as simply relaxing and enjoying the atmosphere on campus during this time of year.
With many long-lasting traditions and ways to get involved this season, there is no shortage of holiday cheer. Make sure to take a break for yourself and enjoy what our beautiful campus and community have to offer. Spread some holiday spirit and get out there to experience it for yourself before we all go home for winter break!