Have you put up your Christmas tree already (if you celebrate Christmas)?
I graduated from a Methodist university and every year they have a Christmas tree lighting ceremony on the Friday before Advent starts, which is usually the last Friday of November. It's been a tradition since 1977 and all the students from kindergarten to post graduates are invited to attend, as well as parents, faculty, and alumni.
I loved this program when I was at the university. I mean how often do you get to stand in a crowd of Japanese people holding a candle and sing Christmas hymns with the choir outside? This rarely happens in Japan. We aren't exactly in the land of Christmas caroling (although I've done that before, too). So I always embraced this opportunity to feel the Christmas spirit on campus.
Even the students who aren't Christians (and most aren't) are there to see the Christmas tree light up and you can feel the anticipation in the air throughout the whole program. A representative of each school (kindergarten, elementary, etc.) pushes a button to turn the lights on and each time a portion of the tree lights up, everyone gasps and claps. It's kind of funny because this happens seven times until the whole tree is lit (we have a lot of schools crammed into this small campus) but sometimes you just can't help yourself. It really is breathtaking!
This year I had a whim to go and I'm so glad I went. The regular candles had changed to penlight candles (much safer since everyone is holding a paper program) and the president of the university had changed, but the atmosphere of the program was still the same. I loved singing with everyone to Silent Night and Joy to the World. The older man standing next to us actually had a very lovely baritone voice. It was the perfect way to feel the Christmas spirit in a traditional way.
Hope you're having a wonderful start to the Christmas season, too! x