Carol Night is the oldest and best-loved tradition at Immaculata. Every year since 1921, when the first class gathered to sing carols by the light of bayberry candles, faculty, students, alumnae and friends of the university have saluted Christmas with candlelight and song.
The scene has always been festive, and the seniors have had a special role. Their entering the rotunda to the singing of “The Wassail Song” is the ceremonial beginning of Carol Night, and the popular “Deck the Halls” recalls the days when students carried wreaths along with their class lanterns and decorated the doors of offices and classrooms during the singing. The seniors also still have the privilege of escorting the statue of the Infant Jesus to a place of honor at the base of the tree, reminding everyone of the true meaning of the Christmas feast.
The rotunda was not always the main feature of Christmas at Immaculata. In the first decade of the college, a stable and all the figures of the Nativity scene filled the center space. Later, the Nativity scene was moved to chapel and the tree with the Infant at its base became the enduring symbol of Carol Night and the Christmas season.
During the long history of Carol Night, variety has been the companion of tradition. Through the years, instrumental accompaniment has enriched the songs. Vocal ensembles and soloists have added their special touches to the carols, and the alumni have always been welcome to join the current student body.
Across the years, songs in many languages have enriched our American heritage, along with the old favorites, “O Holy Night” and “Silent Night,” to proclaim Christmas at Immaculata.