The Holiday Dinner

One of the highlights of every First Year’s fall semester is the First Year Holiday Dinner – a tradition that Yale students only experience once. It’s an opportunity for first-years to come together and celebrate the holiday season with their classmates. Because of COVD, I experienced the First Year Holiday Dinner as a sophomore, but it was still one of my most memorable experiences at Yale. 

Before the dinner, my friends and I excitedly got ready and made our way to Commons. While we didn’t know what to expect of the night, the dinner’s reputation made us hopeful that the night would be full of festivities. Upon arrival, students checked in their coats and were provided a champagne flute filled with sparkling apple juice. Stepping foot into Commons, students were transported away from the usual Hogwarts-esque dining hall setup of the Common and into the Yule Ball in Harry Potter. Wintry projections adorned the walls, synthetic snow covered the photo booth area, and festive music played in the background.

An ice sculpture for our class

The decorated Commons

What is even more impressive, however, is the assortment of food provided. From shrimp, sushi, pasta, lobster, roasted turkey, hot chocolate, chocolate truffles, cakes, and more, it was guaranteed that students left the dinner fully satisfied. While there were already stations filled with food for students to enjoy while catching up with friends, most of the food was presented in a procession known as the Parade of Comestibles.

The Parade of Comestibles is when the dining hall staff presents their culinary creations while making several loops around Commons. Alongside the large platters of food, the Parade of Comestibles also features a marching drumline and trombone player, a ten-foot-long loaf of bread, stilt walkers, and plenty of pomp and circumstance. Leading the procession was University President, Peter Salovey, and dean of Yale College, Marvin Chun, followed by a procession of the flags of the residential colleges.

Once most of the food was consumed and students made their way back to their residential colleges, this signaled the end of the dinner. Since the holiday dinner took place right before reading period, it was a great distraction from my upcoming exams and papers. As a sophomore celebrating this tradition, I can say with confidence that the dinner was worth the wait.