What the White House Looks Like for Christmas

    27 November 2023

    U.S. first lady Jill Biden wants everyone who visits the White House around Christmas to feel like a kid again.

    On Monday, Biden held a gathering to show the White House Christmas decorations. "Magic, Wonder and Joy" is the theme this year. It will be the Bidens' third Christmas holiday in the White House.

    "Each room on display is designed to capture the...delight and imagination of our childhoods," the first lady said. She also thanked some 300 people who volunteered to decorate the White House.

    Holiday decorations adorn the Grand Foyer of the White House for the 2023 theme Magic, Wonder, and Joy, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
    Holiday decorations adorn the Grand Foyer of the White House for the 2023 theme "Magic, Wonder, and Joy," Monday, Nov. 27, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

    There are oversized holiday candies and other sweets in the hallway. There is a Santa Clause with eight reindeer suspended near the entrance.

    Throughout two floors of the public area of the White House are reminders from the poem popularly known as ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. The U.S. Library of Congress helped with copies of the poem from the past 200 years.

    The traditional gingerbread White House includes a large sugar cookie copy of the book opened to a page that says, "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night." The book contains 40 sheets of sugar cookie dough. Another 40 sheets of gingerbread dough are used for the house with 14 kilograms of chocolate and 23 kilograms of royal icing.

    The oversized decorations are meant to bring feelings of joy to children at this time of the year, White House aides said. Children of military families were among the first members of the public to see the decorations. And they were also treated to an afternoon performance of the Disney musical performance Frozen.

    One of the first Christmas trees visitors will see upon entering the White House is decorated with golden wooden stars. The ornaments include the names of fallen service members.

    The official White House Christmas tree is a 5.6-meter-tall tree that stands in its usual place in the Blue Room. The tree is decorated with cheerful pictures from across the country. A toy train runs around its base.

    The State Dining Room has been turned into Santa's workshop. There are workbenches for Santa's helpers, the elves. Stools and ladders circle Christmas trees and gifts-in-progress round out the display.

    In the library, the moons and the stars are ready to honor the tradition of bedtime stories. The China Room has been turned into a shop of baked goods. The Vermeil Room celebrates music with a display of a toy Marine Band.

    In her prepared remarks, the first lady said she knows that magic, wonder and joy can be hard to find, especially as the days grow shorter, the weather turns colder. She said, "Our hearts grow heavy in the face of a tumultuous world."

    "But it's in these times, when we are searching for hope and healing, that we need those points of light the most, that we need each other the most," she said. "It's in these times that I hope you remember, if even just for a moment or a season, how you saw the world as a child."

    Overall, the White House uses 98 Christmas trees, nearly 34,000 ornaments, over 22,000 bells and more than 350 candles for the display. And they are lit with 142,500 lights.

    I'm Faith Pirlo.

    Darlene Superville reported this for the Associated Press. Hai Do adapted it for VOA Learning English.


    Words in This Story

    decoration –n. an object or ornament that is used to make a place more attractive and interesting

    theme –v. the main subject or repeated idea that is shown with objects in a place or with words in a piece of writing

    delight –n. a feeling of happiness

    tumultuous –adj. involving violence, confusion and disorder