National Christmas Tree Lighting

The 2011 National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in Washington, D.C. will introduce a new live Christmas tree. The live Colorado blue spruce, which grew on the grassy Ellipse area south of the White House since 1978, toppled from heavy winds in February.

National Christmas Tree Lighting: 2010 National Christmas Tree

What is the mystique that causes people to brave the cold weather for this ceremony? There is quite a bit of interest and excitement in addition to the opportunity to see the President with the First Lady and family.

For the fashion conscious, it is a chance to see the beautiful winter garb designed for the occasion. For families, it is the opportunity to take part in history.

For many, it is a chance to hear in person the words of hope from the leader of the United States. For everyone, it is the beauty of the Christmas lights and ornaments on the tree.

National Christmas Tree Lighting: Lighting of the National Christmas Tree Ceremony

The National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony starts the month-long event. The National Park Service and National Park Foundation, official charity of the U.S. national parks, sponsor the ceremony and displays.

Military bands and popular singers and bands participate in the ceremony. The White House is an impressive sight by day and exceptionally remarkable at night. It is an amazing display in total; with the National Christmas Tree and the Christmas Pathway of Peace.

National Christmas Tree Lighting: National Christmas Tree Nightly Performances

Besides the featured tree, there are 56 smaller trees that line the pathway, representing the 50 states, District of Columbia and the five U.S. territories. Started in 1923, the event is an extremely festive affair. At times, lights are minimized or subdued, but the message of hope and peace remains the same.

An online lottery system gives interested citizens the opportunity to attend the free National Christmas Tree Lighting, as there is only room for so many. The 2011 lottery date is unknown at this time, but last year's applications for the 3,000 seats and 10,000 standing room tickets were required in early November.

The day after the ceremony opens to the public to view the seasonal beauty of the display, including features such as a manger, large-scale model train, which is a Christmas tradition for many, and a Yule log. In addition, various dancers and choirs give performances on a volunteer basis at the Ellipse stage.

National Christmas Tree Lighting: National Christmas Tree Program Activities

The White House Christmas Tree Lighting usually takes place in the Blue Room or sometimes the Entrance Hall of the White House.

As with any building of that size, there are many Christmas trees, but only one receives the designation of White House Christmas tree, donated each year by the National Christmas Tree Association.

Like the National Christmas tree lighting, the White House Christmas tree lighting has historical significance and national interest.

In 1999, First Lady Hillary Clinton chose to have doll makers fashion toys with American historical figures. First Lady Laura Bush selected a theme in 2002 with ornaments featuring native birds, designed by an artist from each state.

In 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama had 800 ornaments from previous administrations sent to various community groups across the country to show tribute to a local landmark before returning to the White House for display.

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