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CSB and SJU students celebrate at annual holiday dinner

The end of the fall semester can be a stressful time. The holidays are fast approaching, but there are still finals to study for.

And there are times when students just need a break.

College of Saint Benedict junior Christianna Wallace said that’s what makes the school’s annual holiday dinner such an enjoyable diversion. The event – which is held in December before the semester break – is a tradition that dates back over 35 years. It follows the Thanksgiving dinner at SJU, which is traditionally held the week before Thanksgiving break.

Both events are open to students at both schools. This year’s holiday dinner was held Thursday night (Dec. 8) upstairs in the Gorecki Dining and Conference Center on the CSB campus.

“It’s a great time to dress up,” Wallace said. “It’s the end of the year. It makes you forget about finals. You just get (the chance) to come together with your friends and enjoy the festive evening.”

SJU senior Sawyer Macht agreed with that assessment.

“Especially with finals coming up and being super-stressed,  it’s nice to have a chance to get some relief and enjoy time with friends,” said Macht, who wore a tuxedo to mark the occasion.

CSB junior Haley Rowell works as a cashier manager for CSB Culinary Services and helped organize Thursday’s dinner. She was especially pleased to see how many people were on hand taking part in the festivities.

“I heard this was one of our biggest turnouts since COVID,” Rowell said. “Last year, the turnout was smaller. But we sold a lot of tickets this year and a lot of students are coming out.”

In all, CSB Associate Director of Events and Catering Jessica Reiter said 60 employees and around a dozen volunteers planned to serve 1,100 students Thursday. The menu consisted of:

  • Caesar Salad (180 pounds of Romaine lettuce and four gallons of Caesar dressing)
  • Boursin Chicken (200 pounds of chicken breasts)
  • Maple-Glazed Salmon (200 pounds)
  • Slow-Roasted Prime Rib (340 pounds)
  • Roasted Vegetable Strudel (Vegan)
  • Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes with Truffle Oil (360 pounds)
  • Roasted Sweet Yams (200 pounds)
  • Merry Vegetable Medley (160 pounds of fresh vegetables)
  • Potato Rolls (80 dozen)

The dessert options were:

  • Chocolate Fountain (100 pounds of chocolate) with accoutrements (including 160 pounds of strawberries for dipping)
  • Christmas Cookies (54 dozen)
  • Cheesecake Squares
  • Eggnog Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce
  • Cream Puffs (over 2,500)

The cuisine received rave reviews from diners, including Wallace.

“The food was amazing,” she said. “The prime rib was marvelous. Chef’s kiss. It was really good.”

CSB Holiday Dinner guests

CSB and SJU President Brian Bruess and his wife, Carol, pose with students at the annual CSB Holiday Dinner on Thursday, Dec. 8. (Photo by Sophia Maslow)