U.S. first lady Michelle Obama received the official White House Christmas tree Friday — an annual day-after-Thanksgiving tradition.
Mrs. Obama inspected the tree with daughters Sasha and Malia and family dog Bo, after it was delivered on a horse-drawn carriage. A military band played the song, “O Christmas Tree” as the Obamas walked outside.
The first lady leaned down to smell the nearly 5.8-meter fir tree, while 14-year-old Malia commented that she always looks for a nice point on the top.
After Malia confirmed this year's tree has a “very good” one, Mrs. Obama gave a thumbs-up signifying the family's approval.
Displaying and decorating evergreen trees for Christmas is a tradition said to date back to 16th century Germany. Christians believed the tree represented Jesus and signified new beginnings. The tradition spread to American homes through German immigrants.
Now, the sale of both real and artificial Christmas trees is big business in the United States — raking in several billion dollars each year.
It is customary to decorate a Christmas tree with lights and ornaments and place the family's presents for the holiday underneath. Under the Christmas tree is also where children leave cookies and milk for Santa Claus.
This year's White House tree comes from a North Carolina father-and-son tree farming team, Rusty and Beau Estes, who won a contest run by the National Christmas Tree Association to earn the honor.
Members of the association have presented the official tree for display in the White House Blue Room since 1966.