The Freshman Holiday Dinner

Picture this: a giant Harry Potter style dining hall, decorated with holiday lights, ice sculptures, and gingerbread houses. Now add eggnog, hot apple cider, prime rib, sole, roasted turkey and ham, golden potatoes, sushi, shrimp (in the shape of a “Y”), lobster, cupcakes, apple pie, cheesecake, fruit, chocolate covered strawberries, and a twelve-foot challah. Invite all 1,344 freshman and you have the best holiday dinner of all time.

The Yale Commons dining hall strung up with holiday lights and packed with Freshmen.

The freshman holiday dinner is a tradition that Yale students only get to experience once in their college years. It is the first time since the Welcoming Address during Camp Yale when the entire class gets together. Many students like to go to the dinner with their entryway, FOOT or Harvest group, or just with a group of students from their residential college.

Smiling students at dinner.

The dining hall staff presents the food in a procession known as the “Parade of Comestibles.” As holiday tunes fill the air, the staff proudly marches with their beautiful culinary creations. The parade features a trumpeter and drummer, and concludes with an appearance from Santa and Mrs. Claus. With bells in hand, the dining hall staff dress in red and green attire for the event, which has been a Yale tradition since the 1950s. 

The dinner could not come at a better time: after completing our final week of classes, the holiday dinner provided the perfect beginning to Reading Period, an entire week to study, catch up on sleep, and have some fun before finals begin. While at the dinner with friends, we told jokes, caught up on life at home during Thanksgiving break, and reminisced about the end of our first semester as college students. As I walked back home to my dorm, I couldn’t be happier to call Yale my home. 

A Yale Dining chef pushing a tray piled with fruit during the "Parade of Comestibles".

A buffet table stuffed with sushi and shrimp in the shape of a letter Y.

An ice sculture of a nutcracker.
Santa and Mrs. Claus greeting the dinner guests.