The White House Christmas Tradition


The White House via Creative Commons

The National Christmas Tree Contest winner is delivered to the White House to kick off the holiday season.

‘Tis the most wonderful time of the year in the White House as massive evergreens and twinkling decorations cover the large property. Through the years, different themes have been chosen by the president and first lady during the holiday season. A few days after Thanksgiving, First Lady Melania Trump revealed that “America the Beautiful” would be the theme for the 2020 holiday season. Being that this is their last Christmas in the White House, President Trump and First Lady Melania decided to highlight America’s beauty, diversity and perseverance through this year’s decorations.

The season’s showstopper is the 18.5 foot Christmas tree that stands tall in the House’s Blue Room. The enormous Fraser Fir from West Virginia won the National Christmas Tree Contest and was transported in a horse-drawn carriage to the steps of the White House. The Christmas tree chosen to stand in the main room of the White House must be 18-19 feet tall in order to reach the ceiling of the Blue Room, where the chandelier is always removed to accommodate the tree during the holiday season.

The National Christmas Tree Contest started in 1966. In order to compete, growers must first win in their state and region to then qualify for the United States battle. This year’s winner was tree grower Dan Taylor.

Barack and Michelle Obama stand in front of their decorated Christmas tree and celebrate the holiday season. (U.S. Embassy New Delhi via Creative Commons)

“Despite controversy over this year’s theme and how involved the First Lady was in planning the decoration, I think that this is a beautiful tradition that brings together the American people,” freshman Claudia De La Cruz said.

Alongside the noteworthy Christmas tree, the historic home is decked out with decorations that represent America’s natural beauty, pay tribute to frontline workers and show the diverse culture of the American people. According to the first lady’s office, there are around 106 wreaths, 62 trees, more than 1,200 feet of garland, more than 3,200 lights, more than 17,000 bows and more than 150 types of flora and foliage.

While this tradition has become a large part of the modern American holiday season, the practice of revealing a holiday theme and decorating the home was not always a yearly occurrence. In 1889, the first ever known Christmas tree was placed under the Benjamin Harrison administration. The first ever electric lights used on a tree were in 1894 under Grover Cleaveland after the installation of electricity in the White House. While these documentations suggest the idea that the presidential families did privately celebrate Christmas, it was not until 1961 when First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy publicly announced the Blue Room Christmas tree theme that American citizens became involved in the presidential holiday festivities.

Christmas decorators add lights onto the massive trees that fill the White House. (The White House via Creative Commons)

The first theme chosen was the “Nutcracker Suite” ballet. That year, the Kennedy administration decorated the tree with ornaments that represented toys and animals from the famous ballet. All the ornaments were made by disabled volunteers and senior citizen craftspeople throughout the nation.

“This is a really nice tradition that I hope continues throughout the years. It is great to see the White House celebrating the holidays and connecting with citizens of all backgrounds,” sophomore Lucas Paez said.

Other themes that have been chosen throughout the years include: “‘Twas the Night before Christmas” during the Clinton administration, “Home for the Holidays” and “A Red, White and Blue Christmas” during the Bush administration. During the last presidency, Michelle Obama declared one year’s theme to be “Simple Gifts.” This highlighted the small meaningful things that people often take for granted.

This White House tradition continues to remind Americans during Christmastime that the holiday season brings us together. When the president shares the holidays with his fellow Americans, he reminds them that they are united underneath the free nation that is America. Hopefully, this tradition will carry on for years to come. The holidays should be a time where Americans rejoice and remember that the White House Christmas is no different from the celebrations taking place across the country.