Ask Abe: Hippie Christmas

An Alum

Do students still “celebrate” Hippie Christmas?

Abe

Unfortunately (for students and Madisonians alike), the answer is yes. Hippie Christmas, also known as Hobo Christmas, also known as Moving Day, has been one of UW–Madison’s stranger traditions for decades. Many of the just-off-campus apartment buildings end leases in the afternoon of August 14 and start the new ones in the afternoon of August 15. The property-management companies use those 24 hours to clean and repair (though former apartment dwellers may be saying “mm-hmm…”), sending in- and outgoing tenants into a day of homelessness. Each year, Dumpster-diving diehards help to reduce the waste — wobbly furniture, dated electronics, and other things not worthy of moving — left behind by the students. But last year’s moving days still put more than one million pounds of material into the landfill, according to the City of Madison. In recent years, UW–Madison’s Office of Sustainability has been partnering with the city, as well as companies such as Goodwill Industries and St. Vincent de Paul to help students donate and recycle their unwanted items. The donate-and-take sites are set up outside of some two dozen apartment buildings, making it easy for students to sustainably leave their unwanted items — and making Hippie Christmas a less wasteful, more enjoyable holiday for all.