The Olde English Dinner


Students celebrate the Olde English Dinner

The tradition of a Christmas party at Simmons dates back to 1910. It is unclear what sort of revelries ensued at these parties between 1910 and 1912, since the documentation of the parties is limited to cryptic notes in the calendar of events in Microcosm, but a more detailed description appears in the 1914 yearbook. It states: “While dinner was being served Santa Claus and a bountiful Christmas tree caused much merriment and the carols which were sung underneath the windows proved to be a most pleasing innovation for those within doors.” There was also musical and dramatic entertainment.

The first Olde English Dinner was held in December 1914. The Refectory, now Alumnae Hall, was decked out with wreaths and lit only with candles. Students, faculty, and even Corporation members dressed up in medieval costumes and ate a dinner, using only knives, that included a roast pig and a flaming Christmas pudding.


Students perform the story of Saing George and the Dragon at the Olde English Dinner, c. 1957

At these festivities, the members of the Student Government Association, seated on the stage, took the part of the nobles, while everyone else represented the lesser nobility or the commoners. Entertainment was provided by jesters and carolers, and at the end of the meal, a series of short plays were held. In 1921, the skit of the story of Saint George and the Dragon was performed and became the traditional play of the Olde English Dinner from then on. The Olde English Dinner continued as a tradition until December 1969, when it was replaced with a Christmas Sherry Party.

The Sherry Party is no longer held, but the tradition of a holiday celebration remains. Today, the Winter Wonderland tradition is celebrated at the end of the fall semester. Hosted by the freshman class, this banquet puts students in the holiday spirit with res-hall decorating, themed dinners, and an ugly sweater party.

The Olde English Dinner