In Washington, even a Christmas tree has been known to stir controversy. The National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse began with President Calvin Coolidge in 1923 and it continues on today. But that tree and the tree inside the White House have seen their fair share of controversy over the years.
In 1899, William McKinley received letters to not have a tree in the White House, which letter writers referred to as “arboreal infanticide.” Other critics opposed having a Christmas tree because it was a historically German tradition. If you’re also concerned about your tree’s environmental footprint, here are 10 creative ways to recycle your Christmas tree.
In 1902, Teddy Roosevelt did not order a tree by Dec. 23 so there was no tree. The White House also did not have a tree in 1904, 1907 and 1922. Here are 12 more things you never knew about the White House Christmas tree.
In 1969, the ACLU and the American Jewish Congress sued the Christmas Pageant of Peach, Inc. over a nativity scene, saying it amounted to government sponsorship of religion. The suit was later dismissed.
via National Archives
While Richard Nixon was in office, the administration received criticism when it chose the atomic symbol of peace for the tree topper, instead of a traditional star. Read these strange-but-true stories behind 6 White House ornaments.
Former FBI-agent Gary Aldrich alleged in his 1998 book, Unlimited Access, that the 1994 White House tree was decorated with condoms and drug paraphernalia. Former Clinton White House advisor George Stephanopoulos called the book a work of fiction. The 1994 tree featured ornaments made by American art students and had a theme “The 12 Days of Christmas.”
The Clinton administration had a stir in 1995 when an ornament contest winner designed stockings with the names “Bill” and “Newt” on them. Bill’s stocking referred to President Clinton and had candy and presents stuffed in it. Newt, in reference to Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich had coal inside it. Check out the incredible history of Jackie Kennedy’s decorating of the White House.
In 2008, a red and white striped 9-inch ball ornament with the words, “Impeach Bush” written on it by Seattle artist Deborah Lawrence was rejected.
Melania Trump’s choice of red trees raised a stir in 2018 because of the bold color choice but colored trees have started to take off recently.
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