The White House Christmas Holiday Traditions

2017 National Christmas Tree

(PCM) Christmastime at the White House brings about many traditions which have been passed down throughout the years. For example, each year the White House pastry chef whips together a confectionery delight that is an exact edible replica of the White House… think delicious gingerbread White House!

There have been a ton of other holiday traditions that take place as well from everything to the decorations and tree to the famous lights. Each new Presidential family has added their own touch to these traditions over the years and as always the White House is always an incredibly magical place during this time of year… especially for children.

The first White House Christmas party was held in December 1800. President and Mrs. Adams gave it for their four-year-old granddaughter Suzannah, who was living with them. The Adams invited the children of “official” Washington to the party.

The elaborate and memorable parties that were held for the Presidents children and grandchildren date as far back as 1834 during Andrew Jackson’s term as President. It is rumored that Jackson’s party even included an indoor snowball fight, where cotton balls were thrown rather than actual snow. President and Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt took things up a notch again when they hosted a carnival themed Christmas party in 1903 for over 500 children.

The first electric Christmas lights on a family tree were used in 1894 during the presidency of Grover Cleveland. (Electricity dates to 1891 in the White House).

In 1923 President Calvin Coolidge presided over the first public celebration of the Christmas holiday with the lighting of the National Christmas tree, however the tree was not decorated until First Lady Hoover established the custom in 1929.

Franklin D. Roosevelt always read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to his family on Christmas Eve.

In 1961 First Lady Jacquline Kennedy began the custom of selecting a theme for the White House Christmas Tree which was the “Nutcracker Suite”. This tradition continued with First Lady Hillary Clinton showcasing America’s artistic communities and First Lady Laura Bush highlighting her love of animals and paying homage to the famous White House pets throughout the years. In 2008, Bush also introduced the patriotic Red, White, and Blue Christmas after the 9/11 tragedy.

Does your family have a favorite family tradition?

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