Tea pourer Sally Fay Cottingham has enjoyed Wednesday Tea at Sparks House for more than a decade.  “It’s an honor to pour tea and it’s fun to be a part of the Sparks House community,” she said. “There is a spirit of tradition and goodwill that Rev. Gomes brings to Harvard — he appreciates tradition, informality, and building goodwill that gives Harvard spirit.”

The Rev. Professor Peter J. Gomes, the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church, laughs while remembering the humble beginnings of his passion for tea parties as a member of the Harvard Divinity School Class of 1968. “Every House master used to have a tea — because of free eats, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday — I went to a different tea every day as a grad student.”

Since 1974, Gomes has hosted Wednesday Tea, an event that is both practical and social. “It picks you up at a flabby part of the day. I love having people at my house and I love having them on this occasion. I also like trying to figure out who’s here. There are boys, girls, old people, young people — you never know who’s going to show up,” said Gomes.

Traditions and Rituals - Tea

Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

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    "It picks you up at a flabby part of the day," said Gomes.

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    A pensive Gomes savors tea and reflects on this weekly ritual.

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    "It's an honor to pour tea and it's fun to be a part of the Sparks House community," said tea pourer Sally Fay Cottingham.

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    A simple cup steams before a fanciful silver platter.

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    While a student at Harvard Divinity School, Gomes attended tea time for the free food.

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    Tea is poured in The Rev. Professor Peter J. Gomes' weekly tea party.