Giving gifts to family and friends is as an important part of the weeks approaching Christmas as it is to build holiday cheer. The sense of bonding that comes along with the holiday season is also seen here at PEA through the simple and fun tradition of Angeling and Secret Santa.
The tradition starts with students picking for the people that they are going to give gifts too. The actual tradition varies from dorm to dorm, but the process takes a three to four day process. In most dorms, those who pick the names are called "angels", and those who are picked are called "mortals." The gifts given are by no means limited to small treats like candy or snacks. Sometimes mortals may find themselves walking into a surprisingly clean room with a load of laundry. Another common present is a surprise EP date, where mortals find themselves with a surprise date for Evening Prayer. The three or four day process culminates to a dorm party, where angels reveal themselves and give a final gift.
While many girls’ dorms participate in angeling, boys’ dorms also stay in the holiday cheer with Secret Santa. Lower Hoony Lee appreciates the ‘secret’ factor of the tradition. "I had a lot of fun doing Secret Santa this year. You have to do everything really stealthily and worry as you leave gifts for your person," he said. He also compliments the process as contributing to dorm relationships and a generally uplifting atmosphere for the week before holidays. "Secret Santa helps a lot with dorm bonding, and since you don’t have parents here, it’s really helpful and you get in the mood for Christmas."
The dorm traditions may seem, at first, time and energy consuming for new students but some found them to be a creative and rewarding process. Prep Amy Zhang believes that the festivities put everyone in a great mood, especially for the often academically stressful week before break. "You can brag about your EP date or get cool gifts like baked cookies or breakfast in bed," she said. "I really enjoyed decorating your mortal’s door since it makes the whole dorm look a lot more cheery and colorful." In addition those who receive gifts, those who give them aren’t left out of the holiday spirit either.
No matter which dorm or tradition, the result is always the same – a great new friendship between angels and their mortals. Students believe it is one that will carry on into the future of the Academy. "I look forward to angeling, because it is a nice way to end these two weeks," upper Harita Koya said. "Every year, my mortal’s been someone I didn’t know very well, so it is a nice way to get to know someone in the dorm whom you aren’t close friends with."