Yule Log Ceremony

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The Yule Log Ceremony at William & Mary is held annually each December shortly before the end of final exams for the Fall semester. The president of the university reads How the Grinch Stole Christmas and the Vice President of Student Affairs traditionally reads "Twas the Night Before Finals." After the readings and performances by the William and Mary Choir and a cappella group The Gentlemen of the College, a log is passed through the crowd with students touching the log for good luck for the rest of finals. The log is then lit and students walk through the Great Hall of the Wren Building and throw a sprig of holly on the fire to throw their cares away.

The first edition of the ceremony now known as Yule Log was held on 20 December 1934 and was initiated by President John Stewart Bryan. Bryan was known for his love of pageantry and celebrations, which also lead to his creation of Charter Day. In the week leading up to the Christmas party, as it was then known, decorative lights were hung on the Brafferton, President's House, and the Wren Building. The ceremony was in the style of a medieval Yule Log ceremony, with freshmen dressed as serfs carrying the Yule log into the Wren Building's Great Hall. Bryan was dressed as the lord of the manor and was attended by other costumed lords and ladies. After the Yule Log was lighted, the students and faculty would carry torches and join a procession of students carrying a wild boar's head toward Trinkle Hall for dinner. The night ended with a festive dance for all the students and faculty.

Later Christmas parties saw the faculty members attend in eighteenth century costumes and students dressed either in similar costumes or formal attire. The last of the Bryan-era Christmas parties was held in 1941, due to the beginning of American involvement in World War II. After a two year absence, the Yule Log ceremony was revived in 1944 at the request of the students, without the rest of the facets of the Christmas party.


  • Godson, Susan H. et. al., The College of William and Mary: A History, King and Queen Press, Society of the Alumni, College of William and Mary, 1993, pg. 643-644.
  • The Flat Hat, 11 December 1934

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