Holiday Celebrations Spread Cheer


David Li '21

The school usually holds the annual Gingerbread House Build in the Dining Hall. This year, community members decorated their houses over a Zoom call.

You can usually find students both eating Sno-Caps and using them for decoration at the annual Gingerbread House Build in the dining hall. This year, the school livestreamed the annual traditions of the Gingerbread House Build and Lessons and Carols.

On December 13, a livestream of the 61st rendition of Lessons and Carols open to both the school community and the public featured the Hotchkiss Chorus. The performance started with the song “Once in Royal David’s City.” In between songs and hymns, faculty and students read passages from the Bible that tell the story of the life of Jesus Christ. Mr. Jack Brown, director of the Hotchkiss Chorus, said, “Much of the material on this year’s Lessons and Carols is from the archives of beautifully filmed live performances from the past years. It’s a chance to showcase some of the best of the Hotchkiss Chorus with more of our recent work.”

While preparing for the virtual performance, Abby Renger ’23, a member of the Hotchkiss Chorus, described the challenges associated with online learning. She said, “Unfortunately, we couldn’t hear each other sing while practicing, because of the way the Zoom technology worked. This made it a little bit harder to learn the pieces, but even with this, we still sang well.”

Director of Student Activities Ms. Marcie Wistar hosted the annual Gingerbread House Build virtually on December 6. Community members could bring gingerbread house kits to their homes to decorate on a Zoom call. A total of 120 gingerbread house kits were distributed to students and faculty children before Thanksgiving break. Ms. Wistar said, “For students that are missing the community piece, these events were hopefully providing something that is like our normal traditions. Even if we aren’t able to do them together in our community, they give the sense of something normal that we do every year.”

Building gingerbread houses with the school community was a unique experience for Parth Jain ’24. He said, “Gingerbread house building is something I’ve done every year with my family, so going to an event where we got together as a community was really enjoyable. I loved seeing how everyone’s gingerbread houses turned out, and I was able to get to know some of the people on the Zoom call.”

Traditionally, the first night of Chanukah has been marked with the lighting of the menorah in the Main Hallway. This year, Hillel held a gift exchange during Shabbat but were unable to do the usual menorah lighting ceremony on campus.

A recording of Lessons and Carols is available for people to watch.

Interviews were lightly edited for clarity and concision.