These Amazing Photos Will Make You Want to Celebrate Every Holiday at the White House
If you could choose one place to spend all of the major holidays each year, you’d probably choose to be wherever your family and friends are. People across America all have their own traditions and customs to mark every holiday from St. Patrick’s Day to the fourth of July to Christmas and Hannukah. But if there’s ever a good reason to break with tradition and try something new, it’s to take part in a celebration at the White House.
Many presidents — including Donald Trump — have participated in some long-running holiday traditions at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Below, check out some amazing photos of the various holidays that the presidents have celebrated over the years.
1. Presidents have long held New Year’s Day receptions and parties
The first holiday each year falls on New Year’s Day. So of course, American presidents have a long history of celebrating the day at the White House. The tradition of a New Year’s reception on the first day of the year dates back to 1801, according to the White House Historical Association. The photo above dates to 1927, when Calvin Coolidge and his wife, Grace, wished the American public a happy new year from the main entrance to the White House.
Next: The White House may be the perfect place to celebrate this January holiday.
2. The White House may be the perfect place to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Another holiday that comes early in the year? Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which honors the iconic civil rights leader. Presidents usually don’t mark the day with opulent parties or receptions at the White House, but they do typically hold events marking the federal holiday. And what better place to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day than the White House, where John F. Kennedy once met with King himself?
Next: Some presidents have thrown parties for this occasion.
3. Presidents throw Super Bowl parties
Sure, Super Bowl Sunday isn’t technically a holiday. But you have to admit: Most of America treats it like one. That includes the many presidents who considered themselves football fans. During his tenure as president, Bill Clinton famously hosted Super Bowl parties in the Family Theater at the White House. And as the NFL reports, Clinton is an unabashed fan of the Arkansas Razorbacks. He once told an audience in Arkansas, “When something is really important to us — like football — we care about the facts.”
Next: Clinton isn’t the only president who hosted Super Bowl parties at the White House.
4. Barack Obama hosted Super Bowl parties, too
More recently, Barack Obama hosted Super Bowl parties at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., too. In the photo above, Obama watches the 2009 Super Bowl in the Family Theater at the White House. Mashable reports that that year, Obama hosted a bipartisan Super Bowl party to watch the game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Obama is seen holding a pair of 3-D glasses since 2009 was the first year that Super Bowl commercials aired in 3-D.
Next: Presidents have celebrated this February holiday at the White House.
5. You don’t have to drink champagne on Valentine’s Day
Many people love drinking sparkling wine on special occasions like Valentine’s Day. But just as many people dislike the taste of the bubbly drink, and it looks like the White House can accommodate both kinds of revelers at its Valentine’s Day celebrations. In the photo above, George W. Bush arrives in the East Room carrying what looks like a cup of tea to enjoy during a performance by jazz singer Denise Thimes.
Next: The White House does serve champagne for this March holiday.
6. But you can drink green Champagne on St. Patrick’s Day
If, on the other hand, you love Champagne, then you might want to try to score an invite to a St. Patrick’s Day celebration at the White House. The photo above shows Champagne dyed green for a March 17, 2009, celebration in the East Room. Another liquid that gets dyed green for the holiday? The fountain on the South Lawn.
Next: Don’t miss this fun White House tradition on St. Patrick’s Day.
7. The White House has another green tradition for St. Patrick’s Day
If you have a green thumb, that’s another reason to tune into the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Traditionally, the Irish ambassador to the United States presents the president with a bowl of Irish shamrocks in honor of the feast day of Ireland’s patron saint. CNN reports that the tradition dates back to 1952 under President Harry S. Truman. The ceremony has continued ever since, attracting varying levels of media interest over the years.
Next: This springtime tradition has a long history at the White House.
8. Presidents have long hosted the Easter Egg Roll
The Easter Egg Roll has become one of the most beloved holiday traditions at the White House. And the celebration — or at least the egg-rolling activity — dates back as far as Abraham Lincoln. The president often participates in the event, even if he doesn’t have much of a hand in planning it. And if you wanted to see how Pinterest-worthy Donald Trump’s arts and crafts skills are, the 2017 Easter Egg Roll was the place to be.
Next: Who dresses up as the Easter bunny?
9. Sometimes, the guy wearing the Easter bunny costume goes on to become press secretary
One of the funnier aspects of the annual Easter Egg Roll is the appearance of the Easter bunny in a fleecy costume. During George W. Bush’s tenure in the White House, Sean Spicer, who later served as Donald Trump’s White House press secretary, did the honors. At the time, Spicer served as assistant United States trade representative for media and public affairs in the Bush administration.
Next: A few presidents have done this when they make their rounds at the event.
10. Some presidents get more animated than others at the event
Many American presidents have had children (and grandchildren). So it’s no surprise that at an event like the Easter Egg Roll, which typically has thousands of children in attendance, some presidents get pretty animated interacting with the kids. One easy example? Barack Obama, who got pretty enthusiastic about his reading of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are at the 2014 Easter Egg Roll.
Next: Some presidents have celebrated this spring holiday with a little gardening.
11. Presidents occasionally plant trees for Arbor Day
The tradition of planting trees at the White House dates back to some of our earliest presidents. So it’s no surprise that the White House has celebrated Arbor Day in various ways over the years. The photo above wasn’t actually taken on Arbor Day, but we think it’s a pretty fitting representation of the way Melania and Donald Trump might choose to commemorate the holiday. Not even a week before Arbor Day, the American president and French President Emmanuel Macron participated in a ceremony to plant a European Sessile Oak that came from Belleau Woods, where more than 9,000 American marines died in June 1918 during the First World War.
Next: This summertime party happens every year.
12. The Congressional Picnic is an annual holiday for Washington
Sure, summer itself isn’t a holiday. Neither is the annual Congressional Picnic day, a tradition that began under Ronald Reagan. But the Congressional Picnic always looks like a fun party, and the perfect celebration of summer. During his first summer in office, Trump chose a theme modeled after New York’s Central Park for the party on the South Lawn. Photos of the event revealed a carousel, a spread of delicious picnic food, and even remote control toy sailboats in the fountain on the South Lawn.
Next: The White House also throws this major party.
13. The White House hosts a barbecue for the Fourth of July
As you might expect, the White House is the place to be if you want to celebrate the Fourth of July. In the photo above, you can see the Marine Band performing for the guests at a Fourth of July barbecue held by Barack Obama and Michelle Obama for military members and their families, plus government employees and their families. This particular party took place in 2010, but the White House throws a great party for the holiday every year.
Next: This part of the White House staff has a lot of work to do on Independence Day.
14. The White House chefs cook plenty of food for Independence Day
It wouldn’t be a barbecue without lots of food. And it turns out that presidents like the same foods as the rest of us when they take a day off to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In this photo, a photographer caught White House chefs grilling a truly impressive amount of corn on the cob for the guests at the 2012 Fourth of July celebration.
Next: The celebration includes this, too.
15. The Fourth of July celebration always includes fireworks
A party for the Fourth of July wouldn’t be complete without fireworks! The White House Historical Association reports that Thomas Jefferson established the tradition of Independence Day festivities at the White House. After Jefferson’s tenure as president, the celebrations evolved to include parades, live music, and — of course — the fireworks that Americans know and love.
Next: The White House has some great traditions for this fall holiday.
16. The president and the first lady hand out candy on Halloween
Another beloved holiday tradition at the White House involves the favorite holiday of sugar-loving kids everywhere: Halloween! According to the White House Historical Association, presidents have celebrated this holiday in a variety of ways since the mid-20th century. But the tradition of the president and first lady hosting a Halloween event for trick-or-treaters dates back to John F. Kennedy. Melania and Donald Trump have carried on the tradition, and like any good parents, seem to be able to feign fear at the scarier Halloween costumes!
Next: Some children do this when they trick-or-treat at the White House.
17. Some children show up in truly adorable costumes
People with kids or grandkids know that one of the best parts of Halloween is seeing all the children dressed up in adorable and creative costumes. And if you could see the procession of kids who show up for the celebrations at the White House, you definitely wouldn’t be disappointed. In the photo above, Barack Obama greets a young child dressed as the pope — complete with a “Popemobile” — as kids trick-or-treat on the South Lawn.
Next: The kids aren’t the only ones who dress up for the festivities.
18. Even the president’s staff dresses up for Halloween
Halloween costumes aren’t just for the kids in attendance at the White House’s Halloween festivities. In fact, some members of the president’s staff dress up to celebrate the holiday. In the photo above, taken in 2017, David Shulkin, then the U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs, showed up in a pretty creative costume for the Halloween party at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. However, Donald Trump later dismissed Shulkin, meaning that we won’t get to see what costume he’d have planned for 2018’s festivities.
Next: The president usually participates in this tradition.
19. Presidents get up close and personal with a turkey for this Thanksgiving tradition
One of the funniest traditions celebrated at the White House each year involves a Thanksgiving turkey. As the White House Historical Association explains, “It is often stated that President Lincoln’s 1863 clemency to a turkey recorded in an 1865 dispatch by White House reporter Noah Brooks was the origin for the pardoning ceremony.” The ceremony remained a sporadic tradition until relatively recently, but our most recent presidents have all played along and gotten up close with a turkey to carry on the humorous tradition.
Next: The turkey doesn’t always appreciate the gesture.
20. But the turkey doesn’t always cooperate
Even when the president is willing to go through the motions of pardoning a turkey, the bird in question doesn’t always want to cooperate. In the photo above, Barack Obama tries to pardon the National Thanksgiving Turkey, named Tot, in 2016. Tot didn’t seem to want to stay still for the president to do the honors.
Next: Some presidents have celebrated this religious holiday.
21. Several presidents have celebrated Hanukkah at the White House
Though we haven’t yet elected a Jewish president, several presidents have made a point of hosting Hanukkah celebrations at the White House. In the photo above, taken in 2000, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton learn from children from B’Nai Tzedek temple as they sing and light the Menorah as part of the eight-day festival. Each night, the menorah is lit to commemorate the rededication of the Holy Temple.
Next: The White House gets decorated with these before Christmas.
22. The gingerbread houses prepared for Christmas are epic
Another mainstay of the Christmas decorations at the White Hose are the gingerbread houses, which are often expansive and weigh hundreds of pounds. For the 2012 decorations during the Obama administration, the White House had a 300-pound gingerbread house that even featured a replica of the White House kitchen garden that Michelle Obama planted during her tenure as first lady.
Next: This often applies to the Christmas decorations.
23. The decorations look like a winter wonderland
During the Trumps’ first holiday season in the White House, Americans felt divided over whether their holiday decorations were classic or creepy. But Melania isn’t the only first lady to go with a silvery winter wonderland aesthetic when choosing Christmas decorations for the White House. In the photo above, Laura Bush walks by Christmas trees draped with surprisingly realistic snow in the East Room of the White House back in 2004.
Next: The White House always has one of these.
24. A huge Christmas tree is a must
Another mainstay of the Christmas decorations at the White House? An oversized Christmas tree. According to the White House Historical Association, the first family would typically go for modest decorations back in the 19th century. But since then, the proportions of the celebrations — and decorations — have only grown more grand. That includes Christmas trees of epic proportions, such as the one seen here behind John and Jacqueline Kennedy.
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