Throwback Thursday: 'Twas the Season . . .

Scenes from winters more than 60 years ago: (left to right): the Catholic student group the Newman Club enacts a scene not taken directly from Scripture; an inter-fraternity chorale (Kappa Beta, Alpha Pi and Epsilon Epsilon Rho are visible) performs in 1957; guys and gals chat before the Winter Formal on Dec. 10, 1948. (All photos courtesy of UAlbany Archives)

ALBANY, N.Y. (December 14, 2017) — Back in the days when the student population of the New York State College for Teachers was less than an eighth of what the University at Albany is today, winter holiday celebrations, musical presentations and theatrical skits were fairly intimate affairs, with everyone invited.

UAlbany holidays from the 1940s

More holiday snapshots: (top) the Inter-Sorority Ball at the Ten Eyck Hotel in 1950; (middle) 11 years after escaping Austria, the Trapp Family Singers perform on campus in 1949, a Christmas present from the college's Music Council; (bottom) the Student Christian Association pageant in 1947.

Fraternities, sororities, clubs and the college student association all had a hand in sending students off to their winter break in a merry mood. Many of the presentations were obviously the work of well-meaning amateurs, but some events, like the inter-fraternity holiday ball and visits from professional artists, had a far more polished glow.

Either way, it was a festive time for a very close-knit community. While the range and diversity of offerings today is much greater, and still close-knit within clubs, organizations and departments, there was an era in which where nearly everyone on campus knew what their friends at the college had devised to celebrate the season and uplift the community — the results being silly, solemn or somewhere in between.

It would be rather difficult today, for instance, for a UAlbany campus of 18,000 to find a setting large enough to hold a "Winter Formal" for the entire student population. Such traditions began to fade by the early '60s and disappeared within a few years as the Uptown Campus became populated with more than 10,000 students. The old ways, however, have been replaced with festivities more appropriate for a modern research university, boasting students from many cultures — each having a rich tradition of ushering in the season.

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