Winter celebrations vary by institution
By Josh Koenig, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, February 8, 2013
To fight off the winter chill, Dartmouth’s peer institutions engage in winter celebrations ranging from parties and winter traditions to academic-themed events. Though these events are well-received by the students on their campuses, celebrations at other institutions rarely play the central role that they do at the College.
Williams College hosts traditions that most closely resemble those at Dartmouth, and students even participate in a celebration called Winter Carnival, according to junior Izzy Greer.
Though the Williams Carnival has fewer events than the College’s, it features a home ski race, snow castle making and a formal dance, Greer said.
While Carnival is the most prominent winter tradition at Williams, it is not considered a highlight of the winter season because it follows a full month of Winter Session, a relaxing term in which students take only one class, Greer said.
At Amherst College, one highlight is an annual party called “Crosset Christmas” in honor of the residential dormitory that hosts it, according to freshman Mike Harmon.
The party, open to all of campus and to students from neighboring schools, is held in the dormitory’s basement and suites and is sponsored by the Amherst Social Council.
Also at Amherst, students celebrate the first snowfall of the year with an annual sporting tradition, according to Harmon.
“A famed tradition is that the first time it snows, you’re supposed to steal a tray from Valentine, the main dining hall, and sled on it down Memorial Hill,” Harmon said.
Though the first snowfall of the year occurred over winter break, students are eagerly awaiting to participate in the tradition, according to Harmon.
“My roommate and I already have our trays ready,” he said. While students at Amherst were awaiting their first snowfall, Harvard University students had already celebrated “Primal Scream,” their primary winter tradition, according to freshman Ben Scharfstein.
During Primal Scream, students strip naked and run around Harvard Yard, relieving stress on the last night of reading period in December.
While the event is seen as a way to bring the campus community together, many choose not to participate and instead cheer on fellow students who take on the challenge, Scharfstein said.
“Definitely a lot of my friends did it,” Scharfstein, who did not run, said. “It’s a little hesitant at first, but I went out and saw the madness. It was pretty funny.”
In another event designed to reduce stress stemming from academics, students at Columbia University look forward to “Orgo Night,” which takes place the evening before the first major organic chemistry exam, according to freshman Matt Chen.
“Orgo Night is the biggest thing at Columbia,” Chen said. “A band walks around campus, and is very loud, and ends up in the biggest room at the library where they start cracking inappropriate jokes.”
In addition to that night of revelry, Columbia also features a holiday tree lighting and a poorly attended freshman ball, according to Chen.
Because Columbia is in Manhattan, students at the university can also take advantage of celebrations taking place in the city.
“It’s New York, so people who have the budget can go downtown,” Chen said. “There are definitely people who take in all sorts of events in New York. There’s such a wide variety.”
The University of Pennsylvania does not host many events during the winter term, according to freshman Emma Sweet.
“There’s a lot of stuff in anticipation for events in the fall, and spring traditions are huge, but winter is kind of neglected,” Sweet said.
While there are some organized events in the winter, including a party called “Winterfest” organized by Penn’s Social Planning and Events Committee, most winter events vary from year to year, according to Sweet.
“Traditions seem to form themselves just based on the community that students have,” Sweet said.