Following a tradition started by a student in 1965, more than 2,000 people gathered for the annual Christmas Lovefeast and Candlelight Service in Wait Chapel Sunday night.
Students joined faculty, staff, alumni and community members to hear the Handbell Choir, the Flute Choir, the Concert Choir and a Moravian band.
Chaplain Tim Auman led the service, which featured a message by Nathan O. Hatch, president of Wake Forest University.
“Tonight we celebrate one of my favorite traditions on this campus: the Christmas lovefeast,” Hatch said. “For almost half a century, Wake Forest has carried forward this rich Moravian practice of a special Christmas service of readings, carols, exchanging food and drink, and then passing to each other, row by row, the light of beeswax candles. This service is a powerful blend of tradition, and memory, of joy and good will in this season. What makes it doubly special is that we do it together, with so many friends and colleagues.”
Ninety gallons of coffee and 175 dozen yeast buns were served. As candlelight filled the chapel toward the end of the service, the crowd sang, “Joy to the World” and the traditional Moravian carol “Morning Star.”
The Christmas Lovefeast and Candlelight Service is a custom that originated in Europe in 1747. The first lovefeast in North Carolina was held on the evening of the arrival of the Moravians at Bethabara in 1753.