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Campus Finds Comfort in Tree-Lighting, Yule Log

With temperatures hovering in the sixties, it felt like this year's fourth annual tree-lighting ceremony was celebrating the arrival of spring rather than the winter holiday season. But the festive scene created by a packed College Walk--filled with students, administrators, faculty and alumni--was a much needed break from the residual stress of the 9/11 attacks and the war on terrorism.

"There was an eagerness to return to something normal, something familiar," said Eric Thomas, CC'03, vice-president of programming for the Columbia College Student Council, who added that a "spirit of community was engendered by the event." More than 500 people attended the Dec. 6 ceremony.

As it has been since 1998, the tree-lighting ceremony featured free apple cider and chestnuts for all, plus acappella performances and a lighting countdown hosted this year by President George Rupp. Later in the evening, Columbia's 92nd yule ceremony was held in the John Jay Lounge. Guests were ushered in by holiday songs performed by the Columbia Glee Club.

Dating to pre-Revolutionary War times, the lighting of the yule log at Columbia (then Kings College) provided students unable to return home for the holidays with a campus celebration of the season. The ceremony lapsed until 1910 when President Nicholas Murray Butler revived the lighting, which has continued since.

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Published: Dec. 20, 2001
Last modified:Sep 18, 2002