This free event is the first and oldest singing Christmas tree tradition in the United States. Since 1933, the tree frame grew taller, electric lights replaced candles, voices were amplified, and singers were added every year.
Today, the metal and wood structure holds over 100 choir singers. Depending on the Christmas carol, lights on the tree change colors in various patterns and create a visual spectacle for listeners. Dance majors, dressed as angels with lighted wings, join the performance for certain songs.
"This annual event has become a family tradition to kick-off the Christmas season and we are honored to present this gift to our community,” said Dr. Tim Walker, Director of Choral Arts at Belhaven University. "The event will offer popular Christmas carols along with a reimagined singing Christmas tree experience."
A combined children's choir from Madison-Ridgeland Academy, St. Andrew's Episcopal School, First Presbyterian Day School, and Christ Covenant School will add their voices to the performance.
The music will also get an upgrade with professional-quality instrumental tracks that will accompany tree singers. Three of Belhaven's performing arts departments; theatre, dance, and music, are collaborating with tree singers to add their artistry to tell and celebrate the story of the Nativity. Walker adds, "This year's tree will bring the same excitement as the 89th tree and will certainly capture the hearts of people of every age.”
Certain traditions have become expected elements to the tree. An auditioned soloist will take the sought-after position under the star and at the top of the tree. This honored soloist will perform “O Holy Night” near the conclusion.
“In its 90th year, this beloved Christmas event is shared across generations of both participants and attendees,” said Walker. “Mississippians and those from surrounding states make the pilgrimage every year to see this special performance. If you are looking for a tradition to begin with your family this Christmas, then this is it.”