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National Christmas Tree

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National Christmas Tree

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National Christmas Tree (December 2, 2004)
National Christmas Tree (December 2, 2004)

The National Christmas Tree is a 40-foot (12 m) Colorado blue spruce from York, Pennsylvania, planted on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C. on October 20, 1978. The lighting of the tree by the President of the United States is the central event in the annual Christmas Pageant of Peace. There is also an official "White House Christmas Tree", which is usually a cut tree placed within the White House.

The tradition of the outdoor decorated tree began in November 1923 when First Lady Grace Coolidge gave permission for the District of Columbia Public Schools to erect a cut Christmas tree on the Ellipse south of the White House. The first tree was a 48-foot balsam fir from Vermont, lit by President Calvin Coolidge at 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve. The organizers named the tree the "National Christmas Tree". The following year the name was changed to the "National Community Christmas Tree", and the name was not changed back until 1972. In more recent decades the tree was lit in mid-December rather than Christmas Eve. Today the tree is lit in early December.

From 1924 to 1953 live trees, in various locations around and on the White House grounds, were lit on Christmas Eve. In 1954 the ceremony returned to the Ellipse and expanded its focus. Local civic and business groups created the "Christmas Pageant of Peace". Smaller live trees representing the 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia, formed a "Pathway of Peace". On December 17, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower lit a cut tree donated by the people of Michigan. Cut trees continued to be used until 1973 when a live tree was planted. In 1977 the original tree needed to be replaced, but that tree only lasted one season, having been damaged in a windstorm. The current tree was 30 feet (9 m) when it was transplanted in 1978. The tree stands as a daily reminder of the holiday spirit and of the tradition each succeeding President has participated in since 1923.

President Jimmy Carter only lit the crowning star atop the Tree in 1979 in honor of the Americans being held hostage in Iran; in 1980, the tree was only fully lit for 417 seconds, one second for each day the hostages had been in captivity.

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Christmas Guide, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.


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