While I was looking for pictures of the 2010 White House Christmas tree at Google images, I was bombarded by White House Christmas trees from years past, and that gave me the idea to do a photo essay of White House Christmas trees.
Franklin Pierce was the first President to have a White House Christmas tree.
Pierce’s 1856 Christmas tree in the White House was put up for the enjoyment of the Sunday School students from the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington.
The first Christmas tree put up for the joy of a president’s immediate family was in 1889 during the administration of Benjamin Harrison.
Beginning with the Harrisons, it became customary to have a Christmas tree in the White House. However, the tradition did not sit well with ardent conservationist Theodore Roosevelt, who was president from September 1901 to March 1909. He thought that the cutting down of trees for use at Christmas led to deforestation.
Though Roosevelt forbade Christmas trees in the White House, one Christmas two of his sons secretly brought in a tree and hid it in a closet. Division of Forestry chief Gifford Pinchot, a dedicated conservationist and Roosevelt confidant, defended the cutting down of trees for Christmas. Pinchot argued that doing so helped thin the forests. Roosevelt was not won over.
After that first Christmas tree made its way into the Roosevelt White House, the president let his son Archie put up a holiday tree annually in his room. However, the White House tried to keep this fact from appearing in the newspapers.
Not surprisingly, I could find no pictures of the Roosevelt’s Christmas trees.
The New York Times reported on Christmas day, 1912: XMAS TREE IN BLUE ROOM.; Miss Helen Taft’s Guvenile Party an Innovation in White House.
WASHINGTON, Dec. 25. — With the President and Mrs. Taft at Panama, their son and daughter established a new precedent at the White House in the way of a Christmas party to-night. A large and gracefully proportioned fir tree had been put in place in the Blue Room, which in all White House History has never before known a decoration of this kind.
The 1984 White House Christmas Tree Lighting:
The Clinton era trees:
The Bush era:
In 2008, George W. and Laura Bush settled on a patriotic theme for their Christmas tree, featuring ornaments such as this portrait of Teddy Roosevelt painted on a glass ball:
In 2009, the Obamas chose avant garde designer, Simon Doonon to decorate the White House Christmas tree. Doonon is known for his “naughty” design choices, like his yuletide window display of Margaret Thatcher as a dowdy dominatrix and Dan Quayle as a ventriloquist’s dummy”.
The 2009 White House Christmas tree featured ornaments like the oh-so- festive Chairman Mao ornament:
What a difference a year makes, eh?
The Obama’s 2011 Christmas tree via The Daily Mail: A White House Christmas: Michelle unveils holiday decorations to military families as Obamas celebrate the season with 37 Christmas trees, a 400lb gingerbread house and a replica of family dog Bo in almost EVERY room:
First dog Bo is upstaging the Christmas decorations at the White House this holiday season.
The Obamas’ Portuguese water dog is in almost every room of the ground and State floors, ranging from a miniature licorice and marshmallow version to a felt design four-and-a-half feet tall.
President Obama loves the US military so much, that after the Super Committee failed in November 2011, he threatened to veto any effort to get rid of automatic spending cuts that would take effect in 2013 if Congress couldn’t find other ways of trimming government deficits.
Those spending cuts include significant reductions to the Pentagon that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said would be devastating to the military.
Nice tree, though.
Andrew Malcolm, IBD: As Americans struggle, the Obamas make do with 37 Christmas trees:
The economy may be weak, unemployment strong and the first family soon to vacate the White House for another half-month of vacation in Hawaii.
But the Obamas have gone all out in decorating their house this year, including a nearly quarter-ton gingerbread White House.
They have also installed 37 different Christmas trees. Thirty of the trees are live, or were, including one nearly 19-feet tall from Wisconsin. Seven of the three dozen Christmas trees are artificial or homemade including, of course, one from recyclables.
“We have 37 Christmas trees here at the White House–37!” Michelle Obama excitedly told a recent group of visitors. “That’s a lot, right? Yes, that’s a lot of trees. And we also have a 400-pound White House gingerbread house.”
Virtually every room has also been decorated for the holidays with some kind of a replica of the Obamas’ dog, Bo, who’s being made into a kind of first family Christmas canine symbol.
The Bo’s are made of all sorts of materials and come in all sizes. There are Bo’s made of pom-poms (750 of them), Bo’s made from about 2,000 pieces of licorice, Bo’s made from some 35 yards of wool felt and Bo’s made from nearly 7,000 feet of plastic trash bags. There’s even a nine-inch Bo made from hundreds of buttons.
Oprah: White House Christmas Trees
The White House (GW Bush): White House Christmas Trees
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