Lighted Trees a Holiday Tradition Since 1941
On Christmas Eve 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt illuminated the national Christmas tree on the south lawn of the White House. For one inspiring evening, the tree's lights shone brightly, in spite of a city-wide blackout order banning holiday lights for the season. The United States had entered World War II just seventeen days earlier, following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Roosevelt chose to light the tree because he recognized the comfort and strength that people would draw from it as a symbol of goodwill, prosperity and hope. Whether it's a majestic fir on public display or a delicate tabletop tree, the sparkling, ornament-laden tree is one of our most enduring holiday emblems.