One of the best things about Christmas is, of course, the American tradition of witnessing the National Christmas Tree Lighting in the capital of the country. While Christmas itself may still be a few weeks away, the National Christmas Tree Lighting is set for Thursday, Nov. 30. If you aren't in Washington, D.C. that day but still would like to see the ceremony, you can simply watch the Christmas tree lighting celebration by tuning into the Hallmark Channel next Monday, Dec. 4.
For the lucky ones in the area, the celebration will take place on Thursday and is open during a four-day schedule on the Ellipse close to the White House. Prior to the celebration, there was a lottery for viewers interested in a live preview of the lighting. The winners were announced in October. If you feel like checking the holiday celebrations out in person, keep an eye on the website for The National Tree next year where another lottery may be announced.
The National Christmas Tree Lighting event for this year boasts some big names from country music such as the Emmy Award-winning Texas Tenors, country music icon Wynonna but also rock 'n' roll players like The Beach Boys. In addition to them, the American Navy Band, Us The Duo, Steve Gibson, Mannheim Steamroller, Jack Wagner, and Boys II Bow Ties will also serenade local crowds.
There's more good news — apart from the fact that you can watch the celebration on Hallmark just a few days later. In this age of seemingly endless internet access, getting a live preview of the event itself isn't so impossible. In fact, it can be argued that if you have access to WiFi, a smartphone, or a laptop, you're good to go if someone in D.C. decides to record a video and post it online.
Even if you don't have access to the Hallmark Channel, you can take advantage of social media. On Twitter, it's possible that locals in the area gathering to see the lighting event may upload live videos and streams on their Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube feeds. All you need to do is search for "National Christmas Tree Lighting" in the search panel and check to see if anyone is live-streaming the event. The same goes for Instagram where some users may upload live stories of the celebration.
For those who may not know much about the American tradition of getting together in the capital, it's worth checking out the history behind the National Christmas Tree Lighting that goes back to 1923 when former president Calvin Coolidge lit an almost 50 foot tall fir tree at the Ellipse. Over nine decades later, the tradition goes on with millions of Americans eager to see the tree get illuminated with dazzling ornaments. The website itself gives a concise primer on how the tradition began, who carried it forward, and also the different conditions in which it remained a constant tradition at the end of the year.
"The history of the Lighting of the National Christmas Tree is intertwined with the history of America. Through peace and war, from national celebration to national mourning, Americans have gathered together and celebrated the season in this holiday event," the website says.
Over time, the various intricacies that went into the celebration evolved. In 2008, the event took an environment-friendly turn by using LEDs that were energy efficient. "Powered almost entirely by light-emitting computer chips called LEDs, the 2008 National Christmas Tree display was 50 percent more energy efficient than the 2007 display. This is also the first time Santa’s Workshop was found along the Christmas Pathway of Peace, sharing holiday cheer and safety tips with all families this December," according to the website.