Students gather outside of the President's House during the annual tree lighting ceremony at Washington & Jefferson College.

Holiday traditions are a highlight of fall semester

Created: December 19, 2019  |  Last Updated: October 19, 2021  |  Category:   |  Tagged: ,

WASHINGTON, PA (Dec. 19, 2019) — It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Each year, Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) hosts multiple events to get students into the holiday spirit and provide the comforts of home. Check out five of our favorites!

President’s Ornament Signing and Tree Lighting

Students gather in the President's Dining Room on W&J's campus to sign ornaments.

The season starts with an ornament-signing party hosted by President John C. Knapp and his wife, Kelly. The ornaments students create at the party are the featured decorations on the holiday tree outside the President’s House, which is unveiled during the Tree Lighting Ceremony a few days later.

“It’s hard missing holiday traditions at home, but being able to experience it with the W&J community makes me feel like I’m there,” Jenelle Senske ’20 said.


W&J students join together for the annual Commonsgiving dinner held in the W&J Commons.

Commonsgiving features turkeys, pies and more for students to enjoy right before the Thanksgiving break. It’s a student favorite, with lines to The Commons stretching around the block at past events.

“I really like going to Commonsgiving every November because it makes W&J feel more like home and it gets everyone into the holiday spirit,” Julia Plasynski ’20 said.

Dec(orate) the (Residence) Halls

Students decorated one door to look like a wrapped present and made a faux fireplace out of construction paper in another hall.

The holidays also bring a creative outlet to campus during a time heavy on studying. Students are challenged by Res Life to add festivity to their dwellings with the Dec(orate) the (Residence) Halls competition – and a chance to win prizes!.


A student poses with a pillow she made during W&J's Winterfest.

W&J’s Student Activities Board (SAB) orchestrates their Winterfest event. This year, SAB partnered with various cultural associations, including Latino Cultural Association and Hillel, to showcase holiday traditions across different cultures. Many student organizations join in on the fun, including Fraternity & Sorority Life. Krissy Horissian ’22 ran Delta Gamma’s crafting table.

“Our pillow-making craft was the first one that ran out due to the demand from students and everyone seemed to really enjoy it,” she said.

Washington Holiday Parade

W&J Cheerleaders pose in front of the parade float students put together for the Washington Holiday Parade.

And stepping off campus, the City of Washington also puts together the Holiday Parade and Winter Market on Main Street, a fun event for W&J students and the surrounding community. For the first time this year, W&J students designed and built a parade float!

Though November and December can be stressful as the semester comes to an end, W&J students stay cheery thanks to these fun traditions. Have a favorite? Tweet us your pictures @wjcollege!