A Washington Tradition
Did you know that there hasn't always been a Christmas tree in the White House? In fact, the first time a tree was brought in and decorated at the presidential mansion was in 1856. This was when Franklin Pierce, the 14th president, was in office. It did not become an established tradition to have a tree until the 1880s.
When Theodore Roosevelt was in office, he banned Christmas trees from the White House because he thought that Christmas tree harvesting was depleting our National forests. His two young sons brought one into the White House and were sent to the most famous conservationist of his time, Gifford Pinchot, for a lecture. Mr. Pinchot defended the cutting of Christmas trees by saying that for every tree cut down, two are replanted, which actually replenished the forests.
The National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony began in 1923. President Calvin Coolidge started what has become an annual holiday observance on the White House lawn by lighting the first National Christmas tree.
One of the country's best known original tree growers was also a president. President Franklin D. Roosevelt helped to popularize the concept of growing Christmas trees on a plantation by growing Christmas trees on his estate in Hyde Park, NY, throughout the 1930s.
Every other year, the National Christmas Tree Association holds a Christmas Tree Competition. Winners of this competition provide the Christmas tree for the White House. The North Carolina Fraser fir has won this competition more than any other species.