Walking across the BJU campus finds many humming along with Bing. “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” indeed. Inflatable characters and Christmas lights adorn the front of the residence halls, and front campus is being dressed in its yearly festive greenery.
Christmas has come early to BJU, bringing a needed dose of good cheer.
“I love (the decorations),” said graduate student Patricia Duarte. “I feel like they bring a lot of hope and cheer. I put up my Christmas decorations two weeks ago because I was like, Oh, I need to just sit down and enjoy the Christmas tree while I’m studying. So, yes, I love the idea of early Christmas decorations. Gives me the boost that I need to study for finals and get through the semester.”
Other students are enjoying the early yuletide because they were afraid they would miss it. The campus decorations are special to many who walk these sidewalks, junior Kaitlyn McNally among them. “I like the Christmas decorations. I’m really happy they put them out,” she said, “because my Christmas at home is really small because a lot of my siblings have moved away at this point. So for me, the big wow of Christmas is here at Bob Jones, and I was sad when we heard we were leaving early because I wouldn’t get that special Christmas experience. But then they started putting up everything early, and I was super excited.”
Senior Jared Miller said that having Christmas decorations up at the end of the semester makes the end of the semester seem a little more normal. “Especially for the students that have been here longer, they’re used to seeing Christmas decorations at the end of the semester. That’s what happens during finals week. We’re not having the lighting ceremony and things like that, so it’s not as abrupt of an ending with (the decorations) here.”
The University’s Christmas Celebration is traditionally held the weekend after students return from Thanksgiving break. Because the fall academic term concludes before Thanksgiving this year because of COVID-19, the administration wanted to give students an opportunity to celebrate Christmas together. Decorations went up earlier than usual and a limited celebration was scheduled for Nov. 20.
“The celebration of Christmas on campus has had a wonderfully unifying impact on the whole of the BJU community as we focus on the birth of Christ,” said Dr. Alan Benson, vice president for student development and discipleship. “The annual celebration of the lighting ceremony brings a wonderfully satisfying sense of culmination at the ending of the first semester.”
Although the University will not be opening the Lighting Ceremony to the community this year, it will hold a Christmas Celebration and BJU Family Sing-Along for students, faculty and staff on Nov. 20. Activities will include:
- An ugly Christmas sweater competition on social media
- A special lunch in the dining common
- Photo opportunities at the Welcome Center
- Symphonic Wind Band Concert
- Trombone choir concert
Said Benson: “With a desire to have a sense of normalcy as we come to the successful end of a most unusual semester, I can think of no better way for our students to rest in the sovereign control of almighty God than to turn our attention to the gift of His Son. This year, I think all of us need to be reminded of the message of Christmas — ‘Peace on earth, good will toward man!’ ”