NIU’s holiday history focus on good cheer

By Lynn Rogers

Christmas is a holiday based on traditions: Santa Claus, shimmering trees, and Christmas carols. Though customs have grown and changed over the years, the season’s essential focus of good cheer and “peace on earth” has remained the same.

A 1927 issue of Northern Illinois compus newspaper featured several articles on the holidays. Though commercialism seems to be at its pinnacle today, it wasn’t much better back them: “Our present-day Christmas is far less quaint than in times of old. There is undoubtedly a commercial tinge to the whole holiday program…”

That same year, the “dorm girls” from Williston Hall held a lavish dinner party: “around the tables gay with holly and flowers, the merrymakers sat and enjoyed to the utmost the delicious five-course dinner.”

The season’s meaning became even more intense during times of war, reflectin on dead classmates and the hope for peace. A 1943 article lamented that “it’s hard for us to think of Christmas this year, a Christmas that is destined to be filled with tears and sadness.”

Final exam concerns have also been a part of December for decades. A 1945 article stated: “You can always tell when finals roll around – the fellows never can find time to shave and the girls wear turbans and handkerchiefs to hide the hair they did not put up last night – or was it this morning? This is the week that the druggists or DeKalb do a record business – just try to buy caphine (sic) tablets Friday morning and you will see what I mean.”