Monday, December 16, 2013

Celebrating the Holidays at the White House

Help Kids Discover December Holiday Traditions at the White House

The December holidays provide a perfect opportunity to help young people learn about their own history and heritage, as well as the history, heritage, and traditions of others. 

The 2013 White House Christmas Tree
You can share the story of how the Christmas tree became a White House tradition and how farmers across America compete to grow the “Grand Champion” selected to adorn the White House each year in "Grand Champions of the White House" by guest writer Renee Critcher Lyons on Read on for an excerpt:

A tree has not always graced the White House at Christmastime. In fact, Franklin Pierce (1856), our 14th president, became the first to embrace the 500-year old tradition of bringing a tree into the home to celebrate the hope of Christmas morn. And, the practice did not become a yearly event until the 1880’s. Only one president since has frowned upon the use of an official White House Christmas tree, Teddy Roosevelt. Our 26th president (1901-1909), at a time before Christmas tree farms were prevalent, believed the harvesting of Christmas trees might deplete our national forests, and thus banned the practice from the White House.

President Ronald Reagan receives a menorah in the
Oval Office to mark the lighting of the menorah
on the Ellipse
President and Mrs. Barack Obama have continued the tradition of hosting Hanukkah celebrations at the White House as established by previous administrations.
To read about Hanukkah traditions at the White House, visit the article titled "Hanukkah at the White House" on the White House website

Discover More About the White House and American History in Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out
For even more information and stories about White House holiday traditions, the presidents and first ladies, and American history, check out a copy of Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out from your local library and share the extensive fiction and nonfiction pieces and plethora of original art illustrations with the young people in your life. To learn more about White House holidays, you might choose to read how the American hostage crisis in 1979 affected the lighting of the national Christmas tree during President Carter’s term in office in “From Christmas in Plains: Memories” by Jimmy Carter.

Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out is sold in hardcover and paperback at bookstores everywhere. LEARN MORE about this anthology at