Every year, the University of New Mexico celebrates the Hanging of the Greens, one of the University’s oldest traditions. This year, instead of carolers strolling throughout campus to see thousands of luminarias, the event was held virtually on Nov. 20 due to the pandemic.
The University put together a video highlighting some of the activities that happened this year, including a festive song by Something Major A Capella and a short talk of the history of the event given by President Garnett Stokes.
“With the ongoing threat of COVID, however, this year is a very different kind of celebration,” Stokes said in the video.
Typically, student organizations and clubs put up luminarias during the day so students can enjoy them when they come to life at night. However, due to safety restrictions, luminaria decorations were mostly limited to online workshops.
“Being under so many restrictions and being under all these health orders of staying inside and not gathering, it forces us to get more creative when it comes to celebrating traditions such as Hanging of the Greens,” Giovanni Gong, a Coronado Hall resident advisor and UNM senior, said.
The online events included a luminaria tutorial and history session, a wreath making tutorial and the presentation of the annual wreath to Stokes. In addition, the movie “The Polar Express” was free and available for students to watch all day.
“Even though that’s all usually done in person, I’m glad that we continued to keep up these traditions that have a really big impact to students who have attended UNM ... It makes UNM feel more like a home,” Gong said.
Students living on campus were given a chance to pick up luminaria supplies from main campus from Nov. 17-19, with a do-it-yourself kit containing paper bags and candles alongside biscochitos and hot chocolate mix.
Students were encouraged to post pictures of their luminarias online for a chance to win prizes from the bookstore, sponsored by UNM Alumni Relations.
Gong said decorating Coronado Hall with luminarias “was really fun because there’s not a lot of opportunities to connect with our residents in person, and any opportunity to do that is just a highlight in my book.”
“Even if we return to a post-COVID year where we can gather, I think that we should still keep some of the things that we’ve done this year — workshops in person and online make it more inclusive and accessible to everyone across UNM campus,” Gong said.
According to the University’s website, the Hanging of the Greens began in 1934 with the music sorority Sigma Alpha Iota (then called Pa-Yat-Yamo) leading students in Christmas carols, which turned into a candle procession in the 1940s and then a luminaria walk in the 1970s. The Mortar Board started leading the event in the 1950s and continues to do so today.
Stokes touched more on the history of the tradition in her video, discussing how students originally started the long-lasting event by gathering greens from the Sandia mountain pine forests and decorate Zimmerman Library and the Student Union Building.
“Until we can all be together again, stay safe, stay healthy and happy holidays Lobos,” Stokes said.
Megan Gleason is the culture editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @fabflutist2716