On a brisk night in the nation’s capital, lawmakers took a break from political debates and squabbles to get in the holiday spirit. On Tuesday evening, the Capitol Hill Christmas Tree was lit up, continuing a tradition more than 50 years in the making. 

What You Need To Know

  • The Capitol Hill Christmas Tree was lit on Tuesday night, the latest event in a tradition dating back five decades

  • This year's version of the "People's Tree" is a 63-foot Norway spruce, selected from the Greenbrier Ranger District of West Virginia's Monongahela National Forest

  • More than 5,000 ornaments and about 5,000 LEDs have decked out the tree

  • Speaker Mike Johnson said that the tree "represents so much of what make America great"

The 63-foot Norway spruce was selected from the Greenbrier Ranger District in West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest. It was decorated with over 5,000 ornaments and roughly 5,000 multicolor LEDs.

Members of Congress have many weighty issues to deal with in the coming months, from the need to keep the government funded, to the debate over increased aid for Ukraine and Israel. But on this chilly November night, it was all about celebrating the joy of the season. 

“This tree represents so much of what make America great,” said House Speaker Mike Johnson.

Various West Virginia lawmakers spoke at Tuesday's event, including Sen. Joe Manchin, who made headlines earlier this month when he announced he will not be running for re-election in 2024. 

“We gather around the people’s tree,” he said. “A symbol of our country’s strength, endurance and opportunity. Let’s come together in the spirit of the people’s tree and bring these patriotic principles into the new year.”

The first U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree was placed in 1964. Since then, 37 spruce trees, 21 firs and two pines have been selected according to the Architect of the Capitol. After being selected in West Virginia, this tree was driven on a truck to D.C., making roughly 25 community stops. 

More than just lawmakers took the stage Tuesday. Ethan Reese, a fourth-grader from West Virginia, won the honor to speak after winning the 2023 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree essay contest. Ethan’s essay was selected out of more than 400 different entries. 

The ceremony also included a performance by the Richwood High School Band, also known as the "Lumberjack Express." Richwood is not far from the Monongahela National Forest, where the tree was harvested. 

The tree will be lit from dusk until 11 p.m. each evening, through January 1, 2024.