The phrase “National Christmas Tree” came into being on December 24, 1923 in Washington when a Christmas tree was identified as the National Christmas Tree. It has been the tradition of US presidents since then to light the national Christmas tree from the White House on the eve of Christmas every year. This tree lighting ceremony has been recognized as a national event in the United States.This event was started during the tenure of US president Calvin Coolidge in 1923, when a Christmas tree was erected in President's Park (now known as the Ellipse), south of the White House, by an organization. The organizers named the tree the "National Christmas Tree." During this event, various activities like featured guest performances, strolling costumed entertainment, live musical performances and the like are carried. On this eve, the president also delivers Christmas message.
Christmas tree lighting ceremonies at the White House is imbedded with symbolism. Every year when the National Christmas tree is lighted it represents one or the other history of the country. For instance, in 1980, the tree was fully lighted only for 417 seconds, each second for each day the hostages had been in captivity. Similarly on Christmas Eve of 1985, President Bush directed that the lights on the National Christmas tree be turned down for a moment in support of American hostages in Lebanon and their families at home.
Since its inception in 1923, lighting the National Christmas tree has been a continuous and an unbroken tradition of US Presidents. It has been broken only thrice in the history of Christmas celebration in America. In 1979 and 1980, Jimmy Carter didn't light the National Christmas tree in honor of the Americans being held hostage in Iran, and in 1963, Lyndon Johnson delayed lighting for 30 days because of the mourning over assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
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