Happy Holidays from the Office of Alumnae & Parent Relations!
Meredith has celebrated Christmas in many ways through the years, including formal dinners. It’s unclear when the Christmas Dinner tradition began, but we can learn details from student newspapers, such as 1941: “The college dining hall will be the scene of the formal affair.”
In 1949, formal dress was still required. “The rustling of dinner dresses and candlelight will be one of the transformations which will take place in the college dining hall.” The evening ended with the “traditional Christmas caroling in Raleigh by the students. Four groups, consisting of two buses each, are to sing carols at the homes of state leaders as well as those of faculty members and persons connected with the college, Rex Hospital, the State Hospital, the State prison, Blind School, and other near-by institutions.”
By 1964, dress had become semi-formal, and the dinner was described as “extravagant.” After the meal, students went “caroling at the homes of the faculty and staff. Upon returning to school, all participated in hall and suite parties.”
The 1971 celebration began with a Christmas dance and concert several days before the dinner, which was followed by caroling at “various faculty members’ homes where the girls sang favorite Christmas songs and were served refreshments.” Semi-formal attire was not mentioned.
After the 1986 dinner, students lit luminaries, “a student body project to raise money for Interact, a division of United Way. There will be 5,500 luminaries lining every road and sidewalk on campus. Afterward, everyone will gather around the fountain in front of Johnson Hall to sing Christmas carols led by the Chorale.”