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    Presidential Christmas Trees

  • In 1856 Franklin Pierce, the 14th President of the United States, was the first President to place a Christmas tree in the White House.

    The first electric lights on a Christmas tree in the White House were used in 1894 during the presidency of Grover Cleveland.  (Electricity dates to 1891 in the White House).

    President Calvin Coolidge started the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the White House lawn in 1923.

    First Lady Lou Henry Hoover established the custom of decorating an official tree in the White House in 1929. Since that time, the honor of trimming the Christmas tree on the state floor has belonged to our first ladies. The tree stands in the oval Blue Room, an elegant space honored as the center of holiday splendor.

    From 1948 to 1951, President Truman spent Christmas at his home in Independence, Missouri, and lit the National Community Christmas Tree by remote control. Truman agreed to stay at the White House for Christmas 1952, and personally lit the tree.

    The record for the number of trees in the White House was held for many years by the Eisenhower administration in 1959 when 26 trees filled every floor of the house. That mark was surpassed in recent times, including the Clinton administration's 36 trees in the 1997 theme of "Santa's Workshop," and the 2008 White House Christmas decorations of the Bush administration that included 27 trees as part of a theme of "A Red, White and Blue Christmas."

    In 1961, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy began the tradition of selecting a theme for the official White House Christmas tree.  She decorated the tree placed in the oval Blue Room with ornamental toys, birds and angels modeled after Petr Tchaikovsky's "Nustrcracker Suite" ballet

    In 1963, the National Christmas Tree was not lit until December 22nd, becaused of a 30-day period of mourning following the assassination of President Kennedy.

    Since 1966, the National Christmas Tree Association has given a Christmas tree to the President and first family for display in the Blue Room.

    In 1979, the National Christmas Tree was not lit except for the top ornament. This was done to honor the American hostages in Iran.

    In 1984, the National Christmas tree was lit on December 13th with temperatures in the 70's, making it one of the warmest tree lightings in history.