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The 96th National Christmas Tree Lighting took place tonight at 5pm Eastern time. Here are some fun facts below on the annual ceremony and other Capitol Christmas traditions.

1) The tradition began on Christmas Eve in 1923 under President Calvin Coolidge.

2) The ceremony is open to the public and tickets were distributed through an online lottery in October.

3) Live musical performances took place, with popular stars like Gabby Barrett, Spensha Baker, Abby Anderson, Paul Cardall, LOCASH, and the U.S. Army Band, along with several others.  

4) The tree stands at 47 feet tall on the Ellipse south of the White House.  The first family lit the tree. Handmade ornaments represent of each state, and more information on each artist can be found on the National Tree website.

5) The National Christmas tree will be on display and open to the public throughout the holiday season, up until January 1st.  56 state and territory trees, called the Pathway of Peace, also line the walkway surrounding the National Christmas tree with unique ornaments on each tree.  To enhance the holiday experience, different musical groups from the Washington D.C. area and from around the nation perform at the Christmas tree grounds.  A full list of performers can be found here.

6) Commuting around the Washington D.C. area may become more difficult in the afternoon as the city prepares for the tree lighting ceremony.  Several streets will close from 2 to 8pm.

7) Did you miss it and want to watch the ceremony?

You can catch it at Ovation or REELZ on December 2nd at 10pm EST.

8) Other Christmas Trees in the Capitol

Not to be confused with the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse, The “People’s Tree” has arrived to the U.S. Capitol from the Willamette National Forest in Oregon.  The 75-foot tall tree will be lit on December 5th at 5pm by outgoing Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan.  This is a 50-year tradition in which the tree passes through other communities along the way to the Capitol. The tree will sit on the West Front Lawn of the Capitol.  

The White House Christmas Tree also arrived on November 19th.  The Smith family won the National Christmas Tree Contest and the tree was transported all the way from Newland, North Carolina.  Every year, the winning fir is placed in the Blue Room as a Christmas centerpiece.

Laynee P

Laynee is a patriotic conservative living in Nashville. For most of her childhood, she grew up in Seattle and then studied government and politics at Wagner College in New York City. Coming from a military family, she has lived all over America in very blue cities. When she is not studying up on politics, she enjoys volunteering, running, music and spending time with her family.