Amidst the scramble of students trying to finish course requirements, a sure sign of the coming holiday is when decorations start popping up in our University. Every year, decorative pieces adorn the campus, giving the University a beautiful atmosphere once it lights up. Perhaps the most iconic decoration in our campus is the Christmas Tree in the Henry grounds. Towering over the students, it embodies the holiday cheer.
The Christmas Tree has been a part of the University’s Christmas decor since 2012, a few months after the Henry Sy Sr. Hall was inaugurated. Just like the other campus decorations, the Christmas tree is the work of several non-teaching personnel. Designed by Rizalina Buncab, the museum curator; and Antonio Maralit, Chair for Community Celebration, the theme of this year’s tree is Joy. Being a follow-up from last year’s theme of Peace, Ms. Buncab explains that Joy is a representation of the excitement we feel during the holiday season.
An emblem of Christmas spirit
“When they put up the Christmas tree, it became an iconic symbol,” said Fritzie de Vera, Vice President for Lasallian Mission. The Christmas tree is one of the most awaited holiday decorations in campus, many stay to watch the annual Christmas tree lighting. Replete with a variety of ornaments and embellished with vibrant patterns, this classic Christmas decor definitely echoes the dawning spirit of Christmas.
But while the tree is a Lasallian tradition, it actually stands as an invitation for people even outside the University to enjoy. “When we light it up starting six in the evening until ten, it’s open to the community. Anyone who would like to see the Christmas tree can enter the campus,” de Vera explained. She also mentioned that putting up this tree is not just Christmas decor, but rather a way to engage the community in celebration of the Christmas season.
On another note, this iconic tree was also featured by many media platforms. “GMA Network has always been covering this event and it’s also because we hope to spread a message to the public—that this Christmas tree also symbolizes certain advocacies and issue awareness,” explained de Vera. She added that the Christmas bazaar in school will fund the non-profit organizations. “The proceeds of the bazaars go[es] to beneficiaries. Last year, the bazaar proceeds went to families who were victims of violence.”
Putting up a Christmas tree as grand as this one has its own fair share of hurdles and challenges. The DLSU Museum have become key curators for the Christmas tree and the Henry Sy pillars. De Vera further elaborated that the first year of setting up the Christmas tree was the hardest and most challenging in terms of budget and crowd reaction. However, the Christmas tree’s longevity proves itself annually as it has now become a staple in every Lasallian’s Christmas.
De Vera describes this year’s design and approach as “classic and elegant.” Some of the materials used was from last year’s design. But reusing the decorations won’t affect the originality of DLSU’s Christmas decorations. With red and green adorning the towering pillars of the Henry Sy Building, the staple manger at the foot of the tree, and the stars, when brightly lit lead you to where baby Jesus is, this year’s Christmas tree is just as beautiful and grand as the last.
What’s Christmas without a tree?
The most iconic thing about the Christmas tree is the tradition behind it. Every year, students look up when they enter the gate when people are just beginning to assemble the tree. Every Instagram story will be turned towards it when it’s time to finally light it up. It is what a Lasallian looks at while eating their meal from the Christmas bazaar. Most of all, it’s a symbol of a year ending, the cumulative experience of the whole Lasallian community gathered into thanking and praising the baby Jesus. It’s a symbol of a community gathering together to really practice what Christmas is all about—gratitude and charity.
A guiding light
Students, teachers and even outsiders gaze at this gigantic labor of love and are continually reminded of the warmth of the season. People are provided with a certain sense of belongingness as the presence of the tree itself, is a call to celebrate the expression of unconditional love—the reason for the season.
The comfort and repose that people get to procure from this work of art may pass as the season comes to a close, but the poignant message will last. And as Christmas day draws near, may this brilliant piece of craft keep on warming hearts and touching spirits—a guiding light towards the celebration of love, joy, and peace that is Christmas time.