If you are looking for a more traditional way to celebrate Christmas this year that's filled with carols, community, and lights, then make a trip to Poughkeepsie this December. Both Vassar and Marist Colleges are offering their Lessons and Carols the first weekend in December, which are free to the public. Marist College holds its Ecumenical Service of Lessons and Carols on Saturday, December 4th at 3 pm. The service will be at the Redeemed Christian Fellowship, which will include the likes of the Marsit Singers, Handbell Choir, and Orchestra. They ask that you register by Wednesday, December 1st. On Sunday, December 5th, Vassar College will be hosting their Annual Service of Lessons and Carols at the Vassar Chapel starting at 7 pm. This service will feature the Vassar College Choir, Chamber Singers, Women’s Chorus, and Cappella Festiva Chamber Choir. Again, you can register online for free tickets.

Redeemded Christian Fellowship, Google Maps
Redeemded Christian Fellowship, Google Maps

Lessons and Carols, also known as the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, is a Christian worship service traditionally celebrated near or on Christmas Eve which offers Bible readings, choral anthems, and a lighting ceremony. Last year, both colleges had to stream their services virtually because of Covid-19, but they are excited to be back in person this year. 

Vassar Chapel, Google Maps
Vassar Chapel, Google Maps

Growing up in Poughkeepsie, my folks and I would do our best to find things to do all together for the Christmas season. I’ve talked about going on holiday tours to local mansions already, but we also enjoyed holiday concerts. It was my second-grade teacher that initially invited us to the Vassar Lessons and Carols concert. My parents and I loved the experience so much that we kept returning year after year.


Unfortunately, I have not attended Vassar's concert since high school, but I am excited to have the opportunity to attend. Even though there will be many similarities between Marist and Vassar’s programs, I am sure there will be unique touches to make each an original experience. Now, I have never been to Marist’s service, but I have vivid memories of the Vassar Chapel adorned with holiday wreaths, red and gold ribbons, and these magnificent glistening stars that hung from the ceiling. I’m still in awe to this day of the ginormous pipe organ that stands proudly behind the performers. Everyone is given a candle at one point, and then the lights get turned off as ushers go around lighting everyone’s candle. It is a gorgeous spectacle of light and warmth and offers a strong sense of community. I know I am looking forward to the opportunity to attend both this year, and I hope to see some of you there!

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