Traditions give value to any celebration. Pacific Lutheran University holds high many traditions that manifest every holiday season.

Every year PLU celebrates the holiday season with a pair of treasured traditions—the Winter Celebration of Light and Christmas Festival Concerts.

Celebration of Light

Campus Ministry Interfaith Coordinator Aziza Ahmed took on the challenge this year of reshaping the Winter Celebration of Light. The event took place in Red Square Nov. 29 and maintained the tree-lighting tradition while introducing some new elements.

This year, Campus Ministry endeavored to incorporate and acknowledge other traditions in celebration of the season and the community. Ahmed arranged for five interfaith tables to be featured, representing Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas and Wiccan/Pagan Winter Solstice.

“It’s a collaborative event in that we’re working with as many people as we can,” Ahmed said before the event. “We’re going to give people time to interact with the tables and then come together for a Lute Nation performance.”

Ahmed chose Lute Nation to demonstrate that this is not just a religious event—it’s a celebration of community.

“I think step is a part of culture and it’s an art form. It doesn’t have to be traditionally religious to be a celebration,” Ahmed said.

PLUtonic planned a performance for the Celebration of Light as well. As the goal was to shake things up, Ahmed asked them to minimize their carolling and step away from the traditional Christmas theme.

Ahmed commented that last year’s ceremony was underwhelming and hoped the interfaith aspects brought more excitement to this year’s celebration.

This year’s Christmas concert “Gloria” will be held in Lagerquist Hall, Dec. 8-9 @ 8 p.m..

Christmas Festival Concerts

Of all those on campus, Choir of the West and Choral Union Director Richard Nance is one of those most privy to the meaning of PLU holiday tradition.

The Choir of the West, University Chorale and University Symphony Orchestra combine annually to perform five Christmas concerts every December. This year’s concert is titled “Gloria.”

“The choirs have been working on the repertoire since about mid-October,” Nance said. “The orchestra began working on it the second week of November.”

It’s a huge commitment for students, especially during this point in the year as we wrap up our semester. Nance explained that while it keeps students busy, there’s a lot of value in this tradition.

“Though the time commitment is significant, given all the things they do, it is well worth it to bring the joy of Christmas to our audiences,” Nance said.

All Lagerquist Hall concerts are sold out. The Seattle performance typically sees a 1,500-2,000 person audience size.

The concerts are an important tradition for the PLU Music Department, and a community staple in the holiday event couplet. ◼︎

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