The 2011 White House Christmas tree, decorated in cards from the children of U.S. military members and medals from veterans by the family of President Obama, marks nearly 150 years of First Family trees celebrated over the years.
The White House Christmas tree tradition began in 1889 when President Benjamin Harrison lit the first indoor tree with candles in the second floor of the Oval room, since they did not have power. According to White House records, the first Presidential Christmas tree was accompanied by stockings hung on the mantel, presents, candy, nuts and turkeys which President Harrison gave to his family and staff. However, some reports show that President Franklin Pierce has the first indoor Christmas tree in either 1853 or 1856.
Over the years, the First Family followed the Christmas tree tradition, which evolved over the years.
First Lady Frances Cleveland, wife of Grover Cleveland, hung the first electric lights on the White House tree in 1895.
However in 1903, President Teddy Roosevelt banned live Christmas trees from the White House, saying evergreens should not be chopped for the sake of a holiday, though his son had one hidden in an upstairs closet. Roosevelt, however, was not a Scrooge; He and his wife threw a carnival for more than 500 children at the White House and served ice cream shaped like Santa.
The first public Christmas tree lighting at the Whtie House was in 1923 by President Calvin Coolidge with a tree lit by as many as 2,000 red and white bulbs.
First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy spearheaded the first themed tree, a task for all First Lady's to follow, which was a collection of toy trimmings from the Nutcracker for the 1961 Presidential tree.
President Carter was the first to celebrate Hanukkah in the White House in 1979, lighting the first National Menorah. President Bill Clinton hosted the first official public Menorah lighting ceremony nearly 15 years later in 1993.
The Christmas tree tradition did not come without controversy over the years. While recently, the tradition has entered the hot seat amidst a fight over whether it should be called a Christmas tree or a holiday tree, opposition emerged as early as 1899.
According to The Chicago Daily Tribune, William McKinley received a letter in 1899 asking the country to stop the Christmas tree habit, calling it a forestry fad, arboreal infanticide and un-American.
President Abraham Lincoln reportedly did not even have a tree, as there is no evidence.
The 2011 Christmas tree decorated by First Lady Michelle Obama in the theme of Shine, Give, Share came from Schroeder's Forevergreens in Wisconsin. The 19-foot tree will be displayed in the Blue Room of the White House in addition to a National Christmas Tree in the President's Park outside the White House.
View the slideshow to see photos of White House Christmas trees over the years.