Should you stay in Williamsburg for the Yule Log Ceremony?


Alyssa Slovin ‘22 is an English and marketing double major. Besides her work at The Flat Hat as Opinions Editor and Flat Hat Magazine as Editor-in-Chief, she is involved in Sinfonicron Light Opera Company and The Gallery. Email Alyssa at  

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own. 

As the semester comes to a close, you may feel as if you can’t get off campus quickly enough. You’re sick of the food, you cannot handle any more work and you want to enjoy the simple pleasures of showering without shoes. However, even if you are counting down the days until your last final, I propose that you stay on campus through the Yule Log Ceremony, even if that means staying an extra few days.

Yule Log is an annual tradition at the College of William and Mary, not just an interesting dessert on your holiday table. The event is Dec. 18 this year, and it is usually on the Saturday in between finals weeks every year. Everyone gathers in the Wren Courtyard — bundled in coats, hats, and scarves. Religious groups share their traditions, choirs sing and the College president reads the crowd a holiday book. At the end, just when you feel like you can’t stand the cold air anymore, you take a sprig of holly and throw it onto the blazing Yule Log for luck and good grades.

Listen, is Yule Log really that monumental of a ceremony? No. I’ll be real with you. But that doesn’t mean that you must evacuate campus beforehand at risk of being seen there by your classmates. It’s a reason to celebrate. It’s a reason to get together with the people special to you. It’s a reason to drink hot apple cider and sing. It’s cheesy, but it’s true. You might not be missing something that important — you won’t actually fail your exams without that sprig of good luck — but you’ll be missing out on your last chance to be a part of the College community for the semester, and you won’t get that chance again for about a month. Why are you so desperate to miss out on the fun?

I remember my first Yule Log, getting together with my freshman hallmates and standing in the sea of students, listening to The Gentlemen of the College sing Christmas carols and President Katherine Rowe read “The Snowy Day.” We were so cold, but we stood by the fire while we waited in the longest line to throw our holly into the fire, and it felt worth it. It was our last hurrah before we each started leaving for the semester, one by one.

The next year, I remember, we got smarter. We found a way to work our way much closer to the front of the line, so we could make our way to the hot apple cider much quicker. Also, we enjoyed a nice dinner at Oishii, making something exciting from our goodbye for the semester.

This year, I’ve noticed more than ever that the student body is eager to take shortcuts to leave campus as early as possible, which is especially easy considering how many classes are virtually accessible now. However, even if you have the option to take your finals at home or if your last final is on the Thursday before Yule Log, I still encourage you stay long enough to enjoy the tradition. What’s the rush to leave campus so desperately? You’re about to be home for a month, leaving all of your relationships and college lifestyle behind. Your last memories of the semester should not be sleeping on the third floor of Earl Gregg Swem Library the night before a final. Go out in style, throw your holly into the fire and sing the Alma Mater one last time before the spring semester.


  1. The Yule Log ceremony was the evening of my last final at William and Mary in 1978. I had a pretty tough last semester after digging myself an academic hole and had to attain certain grades in order to graduate. I still remember the friendly atmosphere in the crowd and collective sense of celebration. I got to speak with then President of the College Thomas Graves, who congratulated me and wished me well. This is one of the traditions at the College that each person should do at least once. Soak it in and put it in your memory bank. You will treasure it down the road.


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