There are a few things that signal the holiday season is upon us — the cooler change in weather, long lines in busy stores, Santa on every corner, and holiday light displays throughout local neighborhoods.
Perhaps the beacon of the season is the National Christmas Tree. Located on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, D.C., visiting the beautifully lit tree has become a holiday tradition for families in the area and around the world for over 100 years.
The History of the National Christmas Tree
The very first National Christmas Tree lighting took place in 1923 during the presidency of Calvin Coolidge. The idea was actually under the direction of the First Lady. Thousands of spectators came out to watch the lighting — and a tradition was born.
Every year following, trees were cut from various places throughout the U.S. and donated as the National Christmas Tree. It wasn’t until 1973 that the donated tree was planted on the Ellipse. It was to remain there throughout the year, only to be decorated during the holiday season.
Over the years, planted trees have had to eventually be removed and replaced due to needle cast, a fungal disease that results in the needles turning brown and falling off. This year was no exception. The Colorado blue spruce that was planted and growing on the Ellipse was replaced on November 11, 2023.
Ahead of the lighting ceremony, the new tree is a 40-foot Norway spruce from the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia.
The National Christmas Tree is decorated with thousands of lights and ornaments that are created by schools around the U.S., one representing each state, territory, and District of Columbia.
The Details of This Year’s Tree Lighting
Unfortunately, the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony requires a ticket. And while they are free and done through a lottery system, this lottery took place in early November.
If you were lucky enough to score tickets, then, on November 30, 2023, you are sure to enjoy a delightful evening under the stars with music and performances to make you smile. And, of course, the moment when hope is ignited through the lighting of the National Christmas Tree.
If you missed out on tickets to the event, you didn’t miss out at all. On December 2, 2023, the National Christmas Tree site will open to the public. You will then be able to enjoy its beauty and symbolism.
Getting here is easy on the metro, with the closest stops being McPherson Square or Federal Triangle (Blue/Orange/Silver lines). The lights will be on until 10 pm Sunday through Thursday and 11 pm Friday through Saturday.
As for the performances? You can catch them on December 15, 2023, at 8:00 pm EST as the National Christmas Tree Lighting special is broadcast on CBS.
MD Smiles Supports Our Community
Will you be watching the National Christmas Tree Lighting? We sure will. After all, it is a huge part of our community and our nation.
At MD Smiles in Ellicott City, MD, our team loves to do what we can to support this community, too. We provide families with dental services in a way that makes us stand out from others — providing gentle care and a compassionate approach to transforming smiles and improving oral health.