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« A Local Lens - December | Main | Last Tour of the Season for Walking Shtick »
Tuesday
Nov302010

The Many Christmas Trees of DC

uploaded to flickr by Brent RostadFair enough. The last Thanksgiving leftovers are being polished off, us non-shoppers have hunkered down and survived wave after wave of hype about Black Friday and it's vile bastard child Cyber Monday; it's officially time to get in the holiday spirit.

We have a plethora of Christmas Trees in this town, and we're going to start lighting 'em up this week. Here we go:

1. National Christmas Tree: Perhaps best known Christmas icon in DC is the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse. Unlike most of the others, this tree is permanently planted in Washington, and simply redecorated from year to year. The current tree is a Colorado Blue Spruce and was planted in its present location in 1978. It was fifteen years old at the time and transplanted from the home of a family in York, Pennsylvania where it had been a Mother's Day present some years before. However, the ceremony itself (with other trees) dates back to 1923, when Calvin Coolidge lit the first National Christmas Tree, illuminated by 2,500 electric bulbs. The ceremony has gone through many iterations as different trees and locations were tried out, and perhaps most famously remained unlit by order of President Carter during the Iran Hostage Crisis. The National Christmas Tree will be lit next Thursday, December 9th. If you don't have tickets yet, you ain't going.

2. White House Christmas Tree: Often confused with the National Christmas Tree, the White House Christmas Tree is displayed in the Blue Room within the White House. As such, it is often referred to as the Blue Room Christmas Tree. By far the oldest traditional tree, it has been a part of White House Christmases since the mid-1800s. Jackie Kennedy started the tradition of a themed tree, with a "Nutcracker Christmas" 1961, and it continues to this day. This year's tree is a Douglas Fir and hails from Leighton, Pa.

3. Capitol Christmas Tree: Not to be outdone by the executive branch, Congress has had their own Christmas Tree on the West Front of the Capitol since 1964. Not a permanent tree, it comes from a different National Forest every year, courtesy of the US Forest Service. This year's tree is a 67 foot tall Englemann Spruce from Bridger-Tenton National Forest in Wyoming. As is traditional, the decorations hail from the state that supplied the tree, so look forward to 5,000 ornaments from the great state of Wyoming (or 1 ornament for every 1,000 people in the state). Benefiting the "People's Tree" the lighting ceremony is far more accessible than the National Tree's. It will be next Tuesday, the 7th, at 5 pm.

4. Norwegian Christmas Tree: This one may be my personal favorite, simply because I can gaze at indoors. And it has a awesome model train set. For the fourteenth year in a row, our close friends at the Norwegian Embassy set up a Christmas Tree in the Great Hall of Union Station (presumably they have permission to do so). The tree lighting will be this Thursday, the 2nd at 6 pm.

5. Capitol Hill Holiday Tree: Finally, if you're looking for a little more neighborly tree to visit, wander through Capitol Hill to our own little Tree. The tree is known locally as "Big George", after George Didden, a local luminary who passed away shortly after he was instrumental in getting the tree planted. Like the National Christmas Tree, this one is a permanant fixture and is on the north side of the Eastern Market Metro Plaza. The lighting will be this Saturday, the 4th, at 5:30 pm. If you're looking for a little less marble, and a little more humanity in your trip to DC, this is the place to go. And if you're looking to do a little holiday shopping, let me recommend some new stores in the area: Hill's Kitchen and Labryinth Game Shop.

Reader Comments (1)

I was so disappointed that I didn't get tickets to the National Christmas Tree Lighting. Oh well, maybe next year!

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarsea

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