After Thanksgiving leftovers are gobbled up and students return to campus, West Virginia Wesleyan College will kick off the holiday season with two campus Christmas traditions. The Hanging of the Greens will be held beginning at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, November 29, while the Festival of Lessons and Carols will celebrate the holiday season at 4 p.m. on December 3 in Wesley Chapel.
The Hanging of the Greens began as an ancient English custom. Before Christianity reached the British Isles, the inhabitants observed various pagan rituals. One of these such rituals was the celebration of the winter solstice, which comes in the month of December.
When the Christian gospel reached the shores of Great Britain, some of the early pagan rituals were blended with the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. The custom of decorating the walls with greenery continued to take on new meaning under Christian influence, as part of the Christmas celebration. We hang the greens at Wesleyan from year to year to signify the official opening of the Advent and the Christmas season on Campus.
Each year at Wesleyan, members from across the campus community get together to cut, create, and hang the wreaths and garlands that will decorate campus throughout the holiday season. The newly created adornments will then be hung in the Chapel.
The Festival of Lessons and Carols is also a traditional Christmas service from England. It has been celebrated for centuries around the world and for decades at Wesleyan. The service which includes scriptures and carols in anticipation of the birth of Jesus Christ is led by students, faculty, and administration.
The service will feature Christmas carols and scripture readings paired with musical selections performed by the choirs and congregation featuring Wesleyan’s Concentus Vocum, Concert Chorale, and Wesleyan Singers, under the direction of R. Daniel Hughes, director of choral activities.
Following the program with weather permitting, those in attendance will gather outside for the ceremonial lighting of the Christmas tree and singing of carols, held between the Chapel and Jenkins Hall.
The Hanging of the Greens and Festival of Lessons and Carols are free and open to the public.