Ever since US First Lady Melania Trump was secretly recorded showering profanity over decorating the White House for Christmas, holiday cheer there has taken a hit. But people’s curiosity has since peaked. Melania Trump seems to have finally got the hang of holiday decorations and the New York Times went so far as to declare this year’s theme, ‘America the beautiful’ to be “strikingly normal”.
The history of Christmas celebrations at the White House has evolved over the years, and each first couple has left their unique imprint on the celebrations, marked by the presence of a German tradition in the First House of America.
Richard Nixon and the Pageant of Peace
The annual tree lighting ceremony in the White House, where the president turns on the lights of the Christmas tree was known as the Pageant of Peace. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued former president Richard Nixon over the display of a Nativity Scene on White House grounds, stating that it amounted to ‘government sponsorship of religion’. The lawsuit was discarded later by the US Court of Appeals.
Jacqueline Kennedy and the Nutcracker Christmas
Jacqueline Kennedy is credited with commencing the first themed Christmas celebration in the White House, an example her successors would dutifully follow. She decorated the Christmas tree with figurines of the sugar plum fairy, ornamental birds, toys, and angels modelled after Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite ballet. She reused these decorations for Christmas next year.
Michelle Obama’s environmentally-conscious Christmas decorations
‘Reflect, Rejoice, and Renew’ was the environmentally-conscious theme Michelle Obama went for in her first White House Christmas celebrations. The trees were lit with low energy consuming LED lights, and six of the trees were replanted by the National Parks Service after being displayed.
A military Christmas
Obama’s 2011 theme of ‘Shine, Give and Share’ cherished military families and their contributions. Children of military parents sent cards and toys for decorations; the Christmas tree was decorated with medals of military veterans. They repeated this tradition in 2014 and 2015 by inviting military families to tour the decorated White House grounds.
Trump’s Rose Garden Christmas
A curious addition to Melania Trump’s Christmas this year is the addition of the Rose Garden to the White House-themed gingerbread house. The Rose Garden, where the announcement of Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court made, was the scene of a super-spreader event during which both Donald and Melania Trump, their son, and numerous high-profile guests are said to have contracted the coronavirus disease. Commentators and critics have come up with hilarious speculations for this addition but official White House sources have clarified that it was added because the First Lady recently took part in its renovations.