This past Friday, Dec. 2, the University of New Mexico welcomed the holiday season to campus with the annual Hanging of the Greens. The event featured caroling, refreshments and over 13,000 luminarias placed around campus.
Attendees met near the bookstore and walked through campus to University House, where President Stokes was presented with a wreath she hung on her door. Following this, they proceeded to Hodgin Hall for a reception.
This year’s event boasted a strong turnout, proving that after 90 years, the long-standing tradition is still enjoyed by UNM and the broader Albuquerque community, acording to Mortar Board director of public relations and chair of the Hanging of the Greens committee Tayler Suazo.
“We had a really amazing turnout. We got a lot of different student organizations that participated this year, which was really amazing. We do have some student organizations that go yearly, but we also had newcomers and I think it's really nice to let the word get out to campus and let all of these different groups be a part of it, which was really nice and different,” Suazo said.
Mortar Board is a national senior honor society started in 1918. The Maia chapter, located at UNM, has been involved in the Hanging of the Greens since its inception in the 1930s, when students would gather greenery from the Sandia Mountains and use it to decorate the Student Union Building.
Prior to the event, volunteer student organizations set up luminarias in sections assigned to them by the Mortar Board. With decorations, food and attendees in order, festivities began at 5:45, then lasted through 7:30.
Planning the event was no easy task for Mortar Board members and chairs, but thanks to the contributions of the president and vice president, chairs and advisors, it came together, according to Suazo.
“We had to recruit the student organizations, (we had) to designate the different sites around campus to see who would set up. We had to organize the purchasing of tens of thousands of candles and bags, tons of lighters. Then we had to set up orientations to let everyone know how to fold the bags, where to place them, things like that. Then we got entertainment, the acapella group to perform for the event, and biscochitos, hot coco, all that kind of stuff,” Suazo said.
Part of the tradition of Hanging of the Greens is bringing the UNM community together. This year’s event welcomed revelers in groups or alone, according to attending UNM senior Charlotte Gates, who has participated in the Hanging of the Greens every year it’s been available during her undergraduate career.
“Typically, I’ve gone with friends,” Gates said, “This year I went with my brother too. But I would say that, even when I’ve gone alone in the beginning, I’ve found friends while I was there by the end.”
After being accepted into Mortar Board and participating on the student organization side of the Hanging of the Greens last year, Suazo was excited to help put the event on from a more involved perspective this year.
“There's no greater event that brings UNM'S campus together with Albuquerque's community better than the Hanging of the Greens. That's what personally drew me to be on the chair of this committee. It was really amazing just to connect our society with UNM’s campus, other organizations, and bringing it all together to create an event for the community as a whole,” Suazo said.
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The event is a great way of not only bringing together the community, but also sharing the state classic with newcomers, according to Suazo.
“It was a really amazing event, we decorated all of campus and there are people who came who didn’t know what posole was — it's really nice to share not only this event to broadcast what the university has to offer, but also what our new Mexican culture has to offer as well, as far as caroling and biscochitos and posoles go,” Suazo said.
The length of the tradition and how seriously the community takes it adds to the value for student attendees like Gates for whom it, “makes me feel more involved and happy to be at UNM. And festive.”
Spenser Willden is the culture editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @DailyLobo