O Christmas tree

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Capitol Christmas tree

Pretty much everybody knows about the National Christmas Tree – a magnificently decorated conifer in front of the White House lit in a crowd-pleasing ceremony. The tradition started in 1923 and is still going strong. But fewer people realize that there is another great location in Washington to enjoy holiday spirit with a beautiful tree as the backdrop: the Capitol. This year the Capitol Christmas Tree is a gorgeous Sierra white fir, 118 years old and 63 feet tall at harvest, that traveled more than 4,500 miles during its three-week tour en route to DC from California’s Stanislaus National Forest. Providing a Capitol Tree has become the proud task of one of the National Forests since 1970.

I skipped the lighting ceremony (mostly because John Boehner as Speaker of the House was doing the honors =) but took a walk there on Christmas evening. The sight was wonderful indeed! The tree is really massive – equivalent to about 6-story tall building – but surprisingly slender and perfectly symmetrical. 10,000 LED lights light up the night and the citizens of California prepared 5,000 ornaments that adorn the evergreen branches. For the most part they are beautiful, thoughtful, and touching although some made me wonder: a rubber chicken? Lakers t-shirt? Well, the theme was “California Shines” but still…

And one more piece of trivia: every year the tree is topped by the same star ornament. I miss traditional Polish Christmas staying in DC this year but the Capitol Tree never disappoints and makes the usually non-white holidays here special. Wesołych Świąt!

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