“We are about to light the Yule Log,” intoned House Master Diana Eck to the gathering of more than 400 Lowellians at the annual Yule Dinner.

“This is the time of year rich with sacred and secular observances. But these rites we observe tonight take us back to the ancient pagan soil beneath so many traditions: bringing greens into homes at midwinter, kindling lights and fires at the darkest time of year, and feasting at table with loved ones,” said Eck, who is also Fredric Wertham Professor of Law and Psychiatry in Society and a member of the Divinity School faculty. “So deeply did New England’s Puritans resist the celebrations of this season that Increase Mather and his kin prohibited it and levied a 5 shilling fine against anyone found celebrating in this manner.”

The diners were served by white-coated staff members who carved up roasts, replenished platters, and catered to special requests. Then, House masters at the high table summoned those same servers to the stage. One by one, they came forward, were praised for their steadfast contributions to the quality of House life, and were given gifts and hugs. Several were moved to tears, as they basked in the applause of the entire dining hall, and then returned the gesture, with givers and receivers applauding each other, in the true spirit of the holiday season.

Logging tradition

Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

  • Mulling things over

    Mulling things over

    Lowell House members gather by the tree for hot cider and cookies before the annual Yule Dinner in the dining hall.

  • Sing, sing!

    Sing, sing!

    Ryan Solis '12 (from left), Zavier Catoe '12, and Harvard Divinity School Professor Leila Ahmed join other revelers in singing carols before the annual Yule Dinner.

  • Yuletide rhapsody

    Yuletide rhapsody

    House Masters Dorothy Austin (left) and Diana Eck extend a joyous welcome to the gathered throng.

  • Keep on loggin’

    Keep on loggin’

    Lawrence Cripe '13 and Briana Jackucewicz ’13 carry the Yule log into the dining room.

  • Some like it hot

    Some like it hot

    Christine Hurd ’13 stands by the Yule log in the fireplace. "I'm from Texas," Hurd says, "and I like it hot!"

  • What a log

    What a log

    The Yule log burns in the dining room fireplace.

  • Seasonal delights

    Seasonal delights

    Stephen Murphy '13 (left) and Preston Han '13 help themselves to cookies and Bûche de Noël after the Yule Dinner at Lowell House.

  • Giving spirit

    Giving spirit

    Mark Farrell is congratulated by House Masters Diana Eck and Dorothy Austin after he and other kitchen staff received gifts and acknowledgement for their contributions to Lowell House.

  • Well-deserved


    Kitchen staff Liliana Lopes (left) smiles through her tears as she and Filomena Costa react to applause after receiving gifts and acknowledgement for their contributions to the quality of life at Lowell House.