The idea of the national Christmas tree was conceived in 1923 when Paul Moody donated a 48-foot “ Balsam Fir” to President Coolidge. It was placed near the Ellipse and was lit on the Christmas Eve. There was in total 2,500 electric bulbs that were lit on that tree. By 1924, the Christmas tree had become a great celebration and was named “ National Community Christmas Tree. This time it was as a result of the 35-foot tree that was presented by the American Forestry Association. It should be noted that all through the years, these trees have been constantly replaced due to damage especially due to heat or trimming.

Thousand of visitors have been drawn to the tree because in 1932, there were hidden loud speakers in the tree to play Christmas carols. Due to logistical reasons, the ceremony for lighting the Christmas tree moved from the Sherman Plaza to Lafayette Park in 1936. Several Presidents have taken part in the lighting of the tree but President Ronald Regan could not light the tree for fear of an assassination attempt. In 1995, the tree was lit by solar energy. During the Christmas time, the National Christmas tree is decorated with fifty trees to represent the fifty states.


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