U.S. Capitol People’s Christmas Tree

December 15, 2011 by staff 

U.S. Capitol People’s Christmas Tree, It is that time of year again, when millions of Americans are on the hunt for the perfect Christmas tree. Some trek into the woods seeking the perfect tree and outdoor experience.

Others make their selection from a local Christmas tree farmer, and some simply unpack the Christmas tree storage box from the attic or garage.

The history of the Christmas tree dates back to a 7th century English monk who suggested the cone shape of the fir tree represented the holy trinity. By the 12th century, Christmas trees hung upside down from ceilings in central Europe at Christmas time. It was not until the 16th century, that people started to adorn Christmas trees with candles, wax ornaments and gingerbread. References to Christmas trees decorated in America were rare until later in the 19th century.

Today, there are roughly 30 million Christmas trees sold in the United States every year. However, every year for the past 88 years, only one receives the title of standing as our country’s National Christmas Tree.

At 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve in 1923, President Calvin Coolidge walked from the White House to the President’s Park, also known as the Ellipse, to light the first National Christmas Tree, which was lit with 2,500 donated red, white and green lights. The president touched a button at the foot of the tree, lighting a 48-foot tall balsam fir donated by Middlebury College in Vermont.

Even though a “community Christmas tree” had been lit at the U.S. Capitol since 1913, to celebrate “A Civic Christmas,” the idea of decorating an outdoor National Christmas Tree originated in 1921, with a press aide for U.S. Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover, who had worked as a technical journalist for General Electric.

A trade association named The Society for Electrical Development was looking for a way to encourage the use of more electric Christmas lights and the use of more electricity.

At an American Forestry Association meeting a few months after the lighting of the first National Christmas Tree, President Coolidge criticized cutting down trees for the use as Christmas decorations. Believing this to be the end of the Christmas tree lighting ceremony, it was suggested that a live tree be used instead.

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