The National Christmas Tree is Alive

National Christmas Tree 2000

Nat'l Tree 2000, by flickr user wallyg (CC License)

There are a lot things that I love about winter in DC:  ice-skating on the Mall, the Downtown Holiday Market, watching panic-buying of bread and milk each time snow is forecast…  And one of my favorites happened this week:  Tree-Lighting Time.

I’ve got friends who have lived here for decades, but don’t believe that the “National Christmas Tree” is a live blue spruce that was actually planted at the Ellipse on October 20, 1978.  It happens that I know this because before Executive Avenues East and West were closed after 9/11, I used to walk up the Ellipse and past the White House from Constitution Avenue to my job at Farragut North on a fairly regular basis.  (If’n I were President, I’d totally relax the restrictions around the WH.  I really, really, really miss that short-cut.  But I digress.)  I walked right by it, and stopped to read the marker at the base of the tree.   It was lit lastnight amid “Pageant of Peace” festivities and mad-crazy traffic jams.

In contrast, the Capitol Christmas Tree (lit by the Speaker and Majority Leader on Tuesday of this week in a Pageant-less lighting ceremony) is a cut tree.  It’s part of a collection provided by the US Forest Service, from a different state each year.  They’re used to decorate government offices in DC.  This year’s Sub Alpine Fir hails from out in Big Sky country…it’s from the Bitterroot National Forest in Montana.

This year both trees are lit (at least partially) using energy-efficient LEDs rather than incandescents, to cut down on costs and electricity usage.

No word yet on what sort of bulbs will be used when the National Menorah is lit.  The Festival of Lights begins at sundown on  December 21, and there will be a celebration to light the Menorah at 4 PM that day. And of course, each night another bulb will be added!

So get on out there, DC, and take in the holiday sights!

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