Origin of the tradition: a look into Butler students’ favorite holiday carol

“Hey, chingedy ching, (hee-haw, hee-haw) It’s Dominick the donkey…”

Students have read it in the newspapers, seen it on the news, Wikipedia-ed it online, and most of all, heard it playing throughout campus.

But just how did this little “Italian Christmas donkey” make it to Butler University?

The Gamma Psi chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon started their tradition of bringing holiday spirit and carols to campus 25 years ago.This year is no exception as a vast array of multi-colored holiday lights, including both a walkway arch and a large star perched on top of their roof, adorn the house. Of course, the scene is not complete without “Dominick the Donkey” blaring from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

“TKE has had a long tradition of spreading holiday cheer to the campus,” senior TKE Andrew Lutkewitte said. “The lights on our house originated for a philanthropy event, and were liked so much, the tradition stayed.”

Lutkewitte said the reason why “Dominick the Donkey” is played every year is still a bit of a mystery, but that it was included on the large list of holiday songs the chapter began playing during the 1980s. He said it was around 1995 when Dominick took over as the primary song to play.

“Why ‘Dominick the Donkey’?” Lutkewitte said, “Why not ‘Dominick the Donkey’?”
Senior TKE Andrew Sandrick said the tradition is unique only to the Gamma Psi chapter of TKE.

“I really don’t know how exactly the tradition got started, why it got started, or why we chose Dominick—[I] just [know] that it has been passed down for about the last 25 years and is native only to our chapter from what I am aware of,” Sandrick said.

“We’ve done it every year after Thanksgiving mainly because it has gotten a lot of good reception from campus and it shows the beginning of holiday season.”

Sandrick and Lutkewitte both said the house receives more complaints that the song is not being played loud or long enough throughout the day, as opposed to too much.

“This year, more than any other, I’ve noticed people complaining that it hasn’t been loud enough and we need to play it longer,” Sandrick said. “Its a tradition that we get to share with the rest of campus and has become a staple for the holiday season.”

Lutkewitte said, the campus perception of the song is not unlike the campus perception of TKE.

“You either love it or you hate it,” he said. “Either way it’s not easily ignored.”

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