Tommie Traditions: Tree and Creche Lighting

A tradition since 1948

This year – 2013 – marks the 17th year of the University of St. Thomas' tree- and creche-lighting ceremony. This annual event, which sets part of St. Thomas’ north campus aglow, will take place at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 2, on the lower quad.

As in previous years, this year's ceremony also will feature singing by the Liturgical Choir, readings, hot chocolate and holiday cookies.

The tradition dates to 1948 when the Christophori Club, a Catholic organization on campus at the time, and the Tommie Tenants, a campus residents' club, saw to the construction of a creche. The students commissioned Dr. Hugo Reny, a Vienna-born psychology professor, who constructed flat, hand-painted plywood figures that once were displayed in the quadrangle.

In 1950, a log-wall stage – some eight feet high and five feet wide – was built for the scene and installed on the Summit Avenue-facing veranda of Aquinas Hall. It later was replaced by the more elaborate and lighted statues, which were hand-painted in Italy, that the university’s Physical Plant staff now installs each December on top of the Arches between a spray of a dozen cut evergreens.

In addition to the creche, located atop the university’s landmark Summit Avenue Arches, the university will light six evergreen trees, including the large pine near the Arches, as well as the seven deciduous trees spanning Anderson Recreation and Athletic Complex and Murray-Herrick Campus Center.

For the second year, a 34-foot artificial tree will decorate the atrium of the Anderson Student Center. Although it is located inside the three-story atrium, the tree will be visible throughout most of the lower quad.

All lights considered, around 46,000 tiny bulbs will set St. Thomas alight this season.