4-H History and Christmas in the Nation’s Capital

The National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony, which began on Christmas Eve in 1923, is one of America’s oldest holiday traditions. At the time, President Calvin Coolidge lit a Christmas tree in front of 3,000 spectators on the ellipse in President’s Park. Since then, each succeeding president has carried on the tradition of what now has become a month-long event presented by the National Park Foundation and National Park Service.

As the first Honorary Chairman of the National Committee on Boys’ and Girls’ Club Work (now National 4-H Council), President Calvin Coolidge issued the following 1925 Christmas Address to Boys and Girls:

As you are representative of the organizations of the boys and girls of America who live in or are interested in the open country… I want to extend to all of you a Christmas greeting. It seems a very short time ago that I was a boy and in the midst of farm life, myself, helping to do the chores at the barn, working in the corn and potato fields, getting in the hay and in the springtime… making maple sugar.
I did not have any chance to profit by joining a scout organization or a 4-H Club. That chance ought to be a great help to the boys and girls of the present day. It brings them into association with each other in a way where they learn to think not only of themselves, but of other people. It teaches them to be unselfish. It trains them to obedience and gives them self-control. It is in all these ways that boys and girls are learning to be men and women, to be respectful to their parents, to be patriotic to their country, and to be reverent to God. It is because of the great chance that American boys and girls have in all these directions that to them, more than to the youth of any other country, there should be a Merry Christmas.
Calvin Coolidge