SHU Prepares to Celebrate 140th Christmas on the Hill

By: Emma Zuder

(SETON HILL, Pa.) – Dec. 3, 2022, will be the 140th time the Christmas on the Hill event has been celebrated at Seton Hill. Christmas on the Hill first was celebrated in 1882, the same year that Mother Aloysia Lowe of the Sisters of Charity purchased land in Greensburg, Pa, that would become Seton Hill. 

SHU described Christmas on the Hill on the official school website as a “formal celebration that includes a candlelight dinner for students, followed by Christmas liturgy and the Christmas dance, is held just prior to Christmas break.”

This year, Andrea Byer took over as the new General Manager of Dining Services and is helping prepare for Christmas on the Hill. Byer wrote she is “so excited to see the event, I’ve heard so much about it since I interviewed back in September.”

Byer additionally wrote the dining staff are “holding weekly meetings as a management team to review the menu and the timeline in order to have everything done on time. We are also checking our food service distribution center to ensure they have the food that we placed on the menu.” 

Dining Services are not the only staff preparing for Christmas on the Hill. While Darren Achtzehn has a new position this year as Director of Sustainability at Seton Hill, he has continued his tradition of setting up Christmas decorations around SHU’s campus. This year, he had help setting up from several Seton Hill students and alumni. 

Senior student Fox Rainey helped out with decorations this year. Rainey said, “[Decorating] is truly a delicate and ethereal ritual that is a backbone to this community and our traditions. You get to meet so many wonderful individuals and come together to construct this wonderful display of festivity. We share so many stories, jokes, and memories.”

Decorating often puts SHU students and faculty in the holiday spirit. Rainey said that helping Achtzehn decorate with students “has honestly been one of the only ways for me to get into the swing of Christmas spirit and I am going to deeply miss this next year. There really is something magical about the decoration experience here on the hill.”

One thing new for Christmas on the Hill this year is the guest policy. Students are permitted to bring one extra guest for a total cost of $36. Last year, students were not allowed to bring a guest due to the COVID-19 protocol. 

Senior SHU student Desiree Saether said, “my freshman year [the guest ticket] was $20, they haven’t had the guest policy since. I would hope the quality of the food will be equivalent to the price of the guest ticket, or else I will be disappointed.”

Saether also “hope[s] they have better activities after the distance.”

“This is my last Christmas on the Hill and I’m so excited I can bring someone since guests haven’t been allowed in the past couple years,” another senior student, Elizabeth Varner, said.

 “I’m happy to share the Christmas magic at SHU with someone outside of the campus,” said Varner. 

Byer is “a little nervous and a lot excited,” for the event, but has “worked many special events and [is] confident in the team here at Seton Hill to make the event as great as it always is.”


Photo of Students Kenzie Hartnett (Left) and Fox Rainey (right) as they help decorate the Greensburg Room.