The Rockefeller Christmas Tree

    Every year, New York citizens and tourists nationwide gather in Rockefeller Center to watch the annual lighting of the Rockefeller Christmas tree. This age-old tradition has come very far from its minimalist origins. The tradition started in 1931 during the great depression when a group of construction workers spent their last few coins to buy a Christmas tree. They placed it in the center of Rockefeller Center, which was being built at the time. As a team, they strung together cranberries, paper, and even a few cans to make an odd, but festive, Christmas tree. To them the 20ft balsamic fir was more than just a tree, it was a symbol of hope and positivity during such a dark time. 

    Every year since then, the buying and decorating of a Christmas tree for Rockefeller center has evolved and become a beloved tradition. Starting in 1951, NBC first aired the lighting of the Christmas tree and to this day continues to do so. This caught the attention of viewers nationwide and exponentially grew the tradition. 

   As the culture of society has grown and developed, so has the Christmas tree. For example,  when American troops were fighting in World War two, there were three Christmas trees, one white, one blue, and one red to show support. Other years,  records were set. For example, In 1999 the tallest Christmas tree in Rockefeller history was a 100-foot  Fir tree was brought in from Connecticut. Other times, alterations have been made to improve the tradition. The first change recorded was back In 1936 when an ice-skating pageant was held. Another more recent change was in 2017 when LED and energy-efficient lights were used. This green choice was powered by hundreds of solar panels in an attempt to save energy and better the planet. 

   When faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, some hard decisions had to be made. Many new rules were enforced such as limited visiting times, new traffic patterns, and the requirement of face coverings and social distancing upon arrival. Aside from COVID-19, Rockefeller center still made a great attempt to keep the magic of Christmas alive this year. Going along with tradition, an 80-year-old, 75 foot Norway Spruce, was generously donated by the owners of a local New york general store. Although the tree was a bit of a disappointment upon arrival, after a few weeks of decoration and maintenance, the Christmas tree now stands tall in the heart of Rockefeller Center. Adorned with over 50,000 LED lights, and topped with a traditional Swarovski Crystal star topper, the tree glows bright and rings in the holiday season. 

  We can all agree 2020 was not exactly the year we expected. But as we work together to persevere, we can count on this age-old tradition to make our days a bit brighter.


Happy Holidays from the HiTimes Staff!