September 21, 2017
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Feast Wishes is an all-school gathering before the Christmas holidays where students present the gifts of song and cards to every member of the administration, faculty and staff.

*Europeans keep a person's name day, i.e. the liturgical feast of the saint after whom the person is named; your name day is July 26. That's the origin of the "feast." From very early days in the Society the communities celebrated the superior's feast or name day; the community gathered to offer her good wishes, hence "feast wishes."

We read in Madeleine Sophie's life about some of theses celebrations; they included an offering of prayers, a "spiritual bouquet" and usually flowers and gifts of some kind. There was singing and a speech, either poetry or prose, expressing the good wishes of the community. Gradually as customs developed in the schools the children celebrated the feast of the superior and the mistress general in the same way; in the school the celebration included a conge, a whole day for the superior, half a day for the mistress general.

As scheduling became more complex, the dates for these celebrations were set without reference to the person's actual feast, like the royal birthday in England, which has nothing to do with the day on which the queen was born. In addition to these two wishings, in the boarding schools the children offered wishes to the nuns before leaving for Christmas holidays. The wishes, called Christmas wishes, included a play of some kind, not always a Nativity play, but a Christmas one, some singing, flowers or plants for the chapel and a speech, usually delivered by the highest ribbon. Then Reverend Mother gave a little word of good wishes to the assembled school, exhorted them to behave well during the holidays and gave each one a holy card. It was a formal assembly; the hall was decorated, the singing and the play carefully rehearsed, but the atmosphere was very warm and festive.

*(Frances Gimber, rscj)