We can thank the people of Northern Europe (Latvia more particularly) during the 15th century for the origin of the Christmas tree, one of the most iconic images during the Christmas holidays.
I, for one, cannot imagine Christmas without a tree, although over the years, I, like a lot of others have gone from a traditional fresh cut tree to a Sears & Roebuck aluminum tree with silver branches, and ultimately to a variety of artificial trees. They all have had one thing in common though, tinsel, lights (from the traditional oval shaped bulb to bubble lights during the 50’s (my favorite of all time) to the tiny LED lights that light up today’s Christmas trees. Add a little tinsel, a special tree topper and the souvenir ornament of the current year to complete the overall look.
As I write this blog I thought how interesting it would be to feature a little history of some of the White House Christmas trees, along with other trivia, such as a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.
I did find it ironic that the first known “Blue Room Christmas tree” aka the official White House Christmas tree did not surface until the 19th century, long after Christmas trees originated in Northern Europe, although there is some controversy as to when the Christmas tree first appeared in the White House. Some references say it was in 1840 during a children’s Christmas party, hosted by then President Tyler, while other claims President Franklin Pierce had the first indoor tree in the 1850’s; however, it is noted that in 1961, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy was responsible for the first ‘themed’ Blue Room Christmas tree. The theme, by the way was the ballet “The Nutcracker.”
Fact is, there normally are more than one tree in the White House (although many homes today feature more than one tree as well). It is said that in 1997, during President Clinton’s tenure, there were 36 Christmas trees in the White House, and I’ve read somewhere that the Obama’s have had 54 Christmas trees in the White House. It is interesting to note that the current First Lady, Michelle Obama, honored the military in 2011 and 2012, with medals, badges and patches from various military branches, and dedicated the official White House Christmas tree to U.S. Military members, veterans and their families, respectively. In 2011, a Balsam Fir was selected from Neshkoro, Wisconsin, while in 2012 a Fraser Fir came from Jefferson, North Carolina. This year’s official Blue Room Christmas tree is a Douglas Fir from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.
To get the full scoop on Christmas tree traditions at the White House and the Christmas tree in general, visit the websites shown below.
Also, as I perused (web searched) the ‘net’ for references about the Christmas Tree, I ran across this website which would particularly be of interest for the older generation, although I would venture to say that anyone who reads it and clicks on each of the special topic tabs will enjoy going back in history. Kudos to the Hastings, Nebraska, Class of 58 for such a great ‘Christmas’ website. So, for a little nostalgia you may want to visit http://hhsclassof58.com/christmas.htm
For more information about the White House Christmas trees visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_House_Christmas_tree#First_tree or http://decktheholidays.blogspot.com/2012/12/oh-christmas-tree-infographic.html Note: Photos from Wikimedia Commons