The Hoya Holds Annual Holiday Cross-Lighting Ceremony in Dahlgren Quad

Saturday, December 12, 2009
By Steve Brule
Jubilant <i>Hoya</i> staffers taking part in the annual tradition

Jubilant Hoya staffers taking part in the annual tradition

DAHLGREN QUAD—After a challenging year during which Georgetown’s main newspaper saw a last-minute revocation of its independence from the University and extended fallout over its annual April Fool’s issue, The Hoya came together this Friday for its annual cross lighting.

Since the 1930s, the Christmas cross has stood next to Georgetown’s official Christmas tree and is meant to be a reminder of the religious importance of the holiday that the newspaper felt was already slipping from the cultural consciousness during the Roosevelt administration. The Hoya still uses the original green and red light-bulb-studded metal frame of the cross from the first cross lighting, but its wood body has had to be replaced every year since 1941 because faulty electrical wiring causes the wood to catch fire.

“I think we needed this tradition more than ever,” said Campus News Editor Marshall McKinley (SFS ’11).  “Seeing our crappy little cross struggle to light up and then spark and catch on fire was the first time in a while we’ve been able to laugh.”

The event began Friday with the staff’s traditional procession under the dark of night from the Leavey Center, with everyone wearing the traditional costume of a flowing white robe, white hood, and white mask, portraying the “ghosts of Christmas past.”

“It’s a time to remember our great tradition, but it’s also a time to remember some of the darkness that hangs over our past,” Hoya Features Editor Emma Richards (COL ’12) said.  “It feels cathartic to put on this white hood.  It’s about us coming together as one and exterminating these dark figures of the past that seem to loom over us.”

Added Richards,” We’ve been slaving over this ceremony for weeks and it’s great to see it running so smoothly.”

In addition to the cross lighting, The Hoya drove the idea home by hanging dark, human-shaped piñatas from Dahlgren’s trees, representing the demons of the past.

Georgetown President John J. DeGioia was on hand to witness the ceremony, and his young son was allowed to take a bat to the piñatas, which eventually gave way to a stream of crimson confetti and candy.

One of the hooded figures, apparently new Editor-in-Chief Paul Buckley (COL ’11), gave a short speech to the crowd.  “From now on we go forward free of the black marks on our past,” he said.  “We stand here united in these pure white robes and realize we are now pure and whi—upright, standing on our feet as a newspaper once again.”

In one final act of symbolic ceremony, Buckley took off his robe and rubbed his face and arms in shoe polish.  “I is the stupid dark demon that be hauntin’ you!” he yelled in a strange voice.  “Be smart and independent and pure, young Hoya staffers!”  He was clubbed to the ground with plastic bats.

Finally the huge burning cross was extinguished with a fire hose, but first the hose somehow malfunctioned and shot water at members of the Black Student Alliance who were walking back from a meeting, knocking them over and causing injuries.