July 3, 2022

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How Jackie Kennedy Started the White Household Xmas Tradition

George F. Mobley

One particular of the several obligations assigned to the To start with Woman is decorating the White House for the vacations each individual yr. It will occur as little shock to study that Jackie Kennedy is the founder of this festive tradition. Whilst other administrations, like the Eisenhowers, put up Xmas décor in preceding decades, it was Jackie who designed a theme in 1961, deciding upon Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker and placing up decorations that had been elegant, but also appealed to everybody. The next year, she chose a children’s themed tree using vivid packages, sweet cakes, gingerbread, and other ornaments designed by senior or disabled craftspeople across the U.S.

Jackie also commenced the exercise of placing the most important White Property tree in the Blue Room—with the chandelier eradicated it can accommodate a whopping 18-foot tree. Although some of her thoughts have remained around the a long time, other administrations have added their own twists. “In 1975, just one of the volunteer decorators produced a Xmas tree out of cranberries for the purple space,” Stewart McLaurin, President of the White Home Historic Association said. “Every yr considering the fact that there has been a cranberry Christmas tree in the Pink Place.” McLaurin cited other traditions, such as the initially gingerbread home, originally created in 1969 by a German pastry chef. In the course of the Carter administration, chef Roland Mesnier established the inaugural gingerbread White Home, which is now a staple each individual year. In afterwards many years, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa celebrations were being additional to the mix.

“All the decorations develop into component of the White House collection, so they can be reused in other ways,” claims McLaurin. According to him, the 1st Girl begins early just about every calendar year to detect a theme with a workforce of decorators. They then go out and see what decorations can be reused, which ones have to have to be included, and meet up with periodically during the yr. Then, early in the early morning on the Friday soon after Thanksgiving, 100 volunteers (who go by an application method) descend on the White Residence to adorn in accordance to the Very first Lady’s approach. The attempts shell out off as the White Household is remodeled into a magical put for men and women to celebrate the end of the yr.

Below, a couple shots of Jackie’s Christmas decor and other holiday traditions.

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President John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy, 1961

In the Blue Place (just before Jackie commenced her renovations to the White Home), a Nutcracker-themed Xmas tree kicked off the custom of formally decorating for the holidays.

Children’s Christmas, 1962

This photograph reveals the Xmas tree in the entrance hall, as the White Residence was getting restored underneath Jackie’s very careful review of American architecture.

Kennedy Household at Xmas

Jackie and John with her sister Lee and her husband Stanislaw Radziwill and their little ones at Christmas.

Kennedy Christmas Card

Here, an graphic of the 1961 Kennedy Xmas card, signed: “With our appreciation and ideal needs for a pleased Christmas.”

Initially Gingerbread House

1st Lady Pat Nixon and her daughter Julie Nixon Eisenhower admire the 1st gingerbread dwelling in the White Home, based on Hansel and Gretel fairy tale.

White House Gingerbread

Chef Roland Mesnier developed the initially White Household in gingerbread. He demonstrates off 1 of his creations here with Laura Bush.

Red Room with Cranberry Trees

Michelle Obama’s version of the Crimson Room’s cranberry tree decor in 2010.

East Space Creche

In 1967 an Italian creche (nativity scene) was presented to Woman Chicken Johnson and it is nonetheless set on exhibit just about every 12 months (proven right here in 2019).

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