Students at the University of Dallas have an unusual favorite holiday. Groundhog Day.

“The holiday is more than just a large party,” said Larisa Thelan, Alumni Relations Officer. “It’s a celebration of student and alumni camaraderie, [a chance] to take a break and enjoy life.”

“The students make a point to celebrate this Catholic camaraderie, where you are enjoying your life … taking a break from your responsibilities for a day, and relishing that you are all in a Catholic community,” she told CNA.

As the story goes, some students in the 1950s approached the university’s president looking for a fun activity to entertain themselves during the bleak season of winter. The president was busy, and, half-jokingly, suggested Groundhog Day.

The students made Groundhog Day their official school holiday 55 years ago. Today, it is celebrated with a champagne breakfast, a five-kilometer run, and a bonfire barbecue, with hayrides and live music. Thelan said 2,500 people are expected to attend this year’s Groundhog Party on Saturday night.

Students wake up on Groundhog Day with a “feeling like Christmas,” Thelan said, and start the morning with mimosas. Classes are cancelled, and a festival spanning several days begins.
rnThe ticket to access the festivities is the university’s official Groundhog Day sweater, which has become a platform for memorable quotes, often mixing theology, philosophy and revelry.

This year’s quote is in Latin:

“Qui bibit dormit; qui dormit, non peccat; qui non peccat, sanctus est; ergo: qui bibit, sanctus est.” (He who drinks sleeps; he who sleeps does not sin; he who does not sin is holy; therefore he who drinks is holy.)

Thelan said alumni travel from across the country to partake in the festivities, and some graduates host parties in other cities, among them Madrid, Chicago, and Washington D.C.

“Alumni are coming back to the campus party for Groundhog Day not just because they love a good time, but because the University of Dallas holds the best memories of how they became men and women,” she added.

The Groundhog Day reunion is cherished and sentimental, she said, but it is also an opportunity for students to receive advice from alumni.

The alumni are able to “get to know students, relive, and give [students] advice on how they are doing in life, what it means to be a UD student, and what it means to appreciate the classes,” she said.