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One of the most cherished traditions for John Carroll students, both past and present, was born out of necessity. The origins of Christmas Carroll Eve go back over 50 years, and its founding can be attributed to the university’s ski club. 

In the late 1960s, a group of JCU students who were avid skiers wanted to form a university-sanctioned club. In order to gain a charter and become officially recognized by the university, all groups were required to perform some form of community service or event. 

According to John Cunningham ’76, the founding members of the ski club decided to organize an evening where students would sing Christmas carols in the community in order to compete with other collegiate ski clubs. Those ski enthusiasts inadvertently became the founding members of Christmas Carroll Evening, as it was referred to back in 1968 during its inception. 

JCU Students

The founding elements of decorating campus, holiday music, a keynote speech, and attending Mass have changed very little since 1968. Still, like any long-standing tradition, modifications have been made over the years. 

WJCU no longer fills the quad with music, and the caroling is now reserved for the lighting of the quad ceremony, which is now separate from Christmas Carroll Eve. However, the integral customs of Christmas Carol Eve continue to thrive. The student procession, Mass, and post-service meal have survived throughout the years.

CCE circa 1988

JCU organizers rekindled the event in 2021 after a hiatus due to the pandemic and brought back some of the activities that have disappeared over the years. The absence of 2020’s event made the entire campus community aware of how significant Christmas Carroll Eve is to our university, its students, faculty, staff, and alumni. 

The John Carroll community continued to rekindle this campus tradition on Saturday, December 10. The festivities kicked off with JCU’s annual holiday concert in the DJ Lombardo Student Center (LSC) atrium, where JCU’s Jazz Ensemble, Schola Cantorum, Wind Ensemble, and the Sweet Carrollines performed your favorite tunes of the season. 

Christmas Carroll Eve Late Night Breakfast

Following the concert, students led the way to Mass at Gesu in a candle procession. After Mass, students were vibrant and joyful as they gathered for a late-night breakfast and bingo in the Schott Dining Hall. 

Click here for a comprehensive history of Christmas Carroll Eve.