Rringing Light into the Christmas Season: RMC’s Yule Log Tradition

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By David Fejeran –

Rocky Mountain College has many traditions that embody its character in a tangible way. One such tradition is the Yule Log, a dinner and ceremony that has been an important part of the RMC story for generations.

Usually held near the beginning of December, this year’s Yule Log Dinner, which will be held on Dec. 2, will help signify the beginning of the Christmas Season. Students will gather together for a nice, warm meal. A Yule Log will be lit by the youngest student at RMC, the RMC community will collect nonperishable food for Rose Park Elementary, and the night will be finished off with a trolley ride and carolling.

Above all, it is an opportunity for the RMC community to come together to work on something truly beautiful. Multiple departments at RMC end up pouring a lot of time, resources, and energy to put this tradition together, and that in itself is emblematic of not only the spirit of the Christmas Season, but of RMC as well. As RMC President Bob Wilmouth states, “Any time there is a celebration that brings students, staff, and faculty together, that’s a noble charge. What also makes it special are a civic-minded, engaged, liberal arts institution by being part of the food drive. We celebrate and we pay it forward.” Not only do we celebrate the Holiday Season, but we celebrate the RMC tradition of giving back to the community.

Because the Yule Log is one of the biggest events that is held at RMC, it requires a lot of hard, dedicated work to put it together. It is a joint effort on the part of Student Activities and Spiritual Life that allow this tradition to continue. While Spiritual Life focuses on keeping the tradition true to itself and the RMC Spirit, Rocktivities is much more logistics-driven.

The Student Activities Department consists of three teams, and each team usually is in charge of putting a single event together. However, for Yule Log, every team is involved in some part of the process of putting it all together; one team works on the dinner aspect, one team works on the ceremony itself, and one team works on the festivities afterwards. It’s a huge commitment, but Activities Director Cara Lohrenz knows that in the end, it’s all worth it. “The set up for dinner is always a blur- nothing looks quite right until I see Tim in his Santa suit handing out candy canes to Rocky Family children running around the dining room and Fraley. Tables always look best filled with people enjoying their meals and conversations,” said Lohrenz.

Even with all the bells and whistles (quite literally, especially on the carolling trolley), the Yule Log tradition would not be the same without the ceremony itself of lighting the Yule Log. RMC Chaplain Kim Woeste explains that the tradition of lighting a Yule Log goes back hundreds of years. The Celtic Druids would light a log at this time of year to symbolize welcoming light into the coming winter season while also burning away all the bad things that happened in the previous year. According to tradition, the youngest member of the household would light the log, which is why the youngest student at RMC will light this year’s log on Wednesday.
The tradition of the Yule Log is important to the long-standing RMC community, as Woeste explains, “Traditions are important that way — they connect us with our history. They help define us. The Yule Log Dinner has been a part of who we are and what we do for as long as anyone can remember.”

So this Wednesday, join the RMC community in bringing light into the Christmas Season. Gather with friends, sing some songs, and take part in that rich history that RMC is such a proud part of.

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