Published on November 21, 2016 by Philip Poole  
Christmas events

by Olivia Williams 

Samford University will celebrate the Christmas season with a series of events that will be of interest to students, alumni and the general public. Many of the programs have been enjoyed by several generations of Samford students. 

Wright Center Cinema will kick off the season with The Muppet Christmas Carol Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. Tickets are available online. 

Samford’s oldest and second-largest Christmas event is Christmas Around the World Dec. 1 at 10 a.m. in Reid Chapel. The program, hosted by the Departments of World Languages and Cultures, Classics and Religion, offers music and scripture readings in 20 languages. 

“It begins with a welcome and invocations in different languages, and then alternates between scripture readings and carols in multiple languages, culminating in different language verses of ‘Silent Night’ and a final verse everyone sings in English that rocks the rafters of a filled Reid Chapel,” said Mike Ledgerwood, world languages and cultures department chair. 

Two popular longstanding traditions, Hanging of the Green and Lighting of the Way, also are Dec. 1. 

Hanging of the Green, based on an old English tradition, will be in Reid Chapel at 6 p.m. The service includes the lighting of the Advent wreath, decorating a Chrismon tree and music by the University Chorale. The service is led by 12 senior students who are nominated and selected for this honor. 

Lighting of the Way will begin at 7 p.m. on Centennial Walk. Samford First Lady Jeanna Westmoreland will read the Christmas Story. Following that, the Christmas tree will be lit in a sea of bright lights. Refreshments and live music will follow. 

Both events are open to the public. 

“It is hard to think of Samford University without Lighting of the Way coming to mind,” said Morgan Quisenberry, junior education major and Student Activities Council special events director. “This annual event not only brings people together to enjoy the warmth of good food and company in the midst of a season that so easily overwhelms us, it brings everyone together to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.” 

A newer Samford offering, albeit one that celebrates a 2,000-year-old celestial event, is the Star of Bethlehem presentation in Christenberry Planetarium. The shows, starting Dec. 1 and concluding Dec. 15, will be offered at a variety of times during the day and evening. 

This year’s program will explore the star from astronomical, biblical and historical perspectives, and offer a prayerful mediation in preparation for Christmas. Tickets are $10. 

The A Cappella Choir will fill Hodges Chapel with prayer, liturgy and song during a Service of Lessons and Carols Dec. 2, at 5:30 p.m. The special Christmas program is part of the 36-member choir’s monthly choral vespers services. The public is invited. 

“The Advent vespers service is an opportunity to bring a diverse group of people into a common celebration of worship,” said Philip Copeland, A Cappella Choir director. “Together, we celebrate the anticipation of the Christmas season and the coming of Christ. In this Samford service, we use Antonio Vivaldi’s ‘Gloria’ as our musical vehicle to explore the Christmas season of preparation.” 

The Samford Alumni Association will host its third annual Samford Family Christmas in Harry’s Coffee House Dec. 3, 9–11 a.m. Samford families are invited to enjoy Christmas crafts, music, yuletide treats and have photos made with Santa. This event is free, but participants are encouraged to register online. 

Also on Dec. 3, the Samford community will partner with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Birmingham to provide a “home for the holidays” for two families in need. Volunteers can choose to volunteer all day, or they can work one of two shifts, either 7:30 a.m.–12 p.m. or 12–4 p.m. Lunch will be provided for all volunteers. Advanced registration is requested. 

Bells of Buchanan, Samford’s handbell choir, will present a concert Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Brock Recital Hall.

“The concert by Bells of Buchanan features charming and familiar favorites of Christmas,” said Copeland, who also directs the handbell choir. “The carol arrangements are challenging at times, but these Samford-trained musicians are skilled and prepared.”

Samford Legacy League’s Christmas Home Tour will be presented by ARC Reality Dec. 8. The tour features five homes in Vestavia Hills, Mountain Brook and Birmingham. The Holiday Gift Market located the Samford President’s Home offers a unique collection of jewelry, art, children’s items, clothing, accessories and home items from carefully selected merchants. There, guests can also enjoy seasonal hors d’oeuvres and desserts. 

Proceeds from the Christmas Home Tour and Holiday Gift Market will help provide scholarships for Samford students with significant financial need. 

“ARC is honored to partner with Samford University in such a worthy cause,” said Mechelle Wilder, partner and associate broker at ARC Reality. “Monies raised from the Christmas Home Tour will have a positive impact on Samford students, our community and our state.” 

Homes will be open 10 a.m.–2 p.m. and 4–8 p.m. and may be toured in any order. Tickets are $25 online through Tuesday, Dec. 6, or $30 at the door of featured homes during tour hours. 

The Alabama Ballet’s annual production of  George Ballanchine’s The Nutcracker will feature a variety of performances in Samford’s Wright Center Concert Hall Dec. 9–11 and Dec. 16–18 at various times. Tickets are available online. 

Opera Birmingham’s Sounds of the Season performance is Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m. in Brock Recital Hall. Tickets are also available online. 

“Christmas at Wright Center is one of our best features as we bring holiday sounds and traditions to the Samford and Birmingham community,” said Kenny Gannon, Wright Center director. 

Olivia Williams is a journalism and mass communication major and a news and feature writer in the Division of Marketing and Communication.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.