Published November 29, 2012
Since the 19th century the White House has honored the tradition to put up an indoor Christmas tree, and since 1961 it has been displayed in what is known as "The Blue Room." This year's "Blue Room Christmas Tree" arrived in the traditional horse-drawn carriage from a North Carolina farm where Latinos had a hand in its cultivation.
North Carolina is the second largest source of Christmas pine trees in the United States behind Oregon, and it is an industry that relies heavily on skilled Latino workers.
According to Kathy Estes of Peak Farms where this year's tree was grown, Latinos have been "essential" to the growth of their business.
Executive director of the Christmas Tree Association of North Carolina, Jennifer Greene, explained to Efe that dependence on Latino workers at farms of this type across the country is very common.
"Eighty percent of the workforce on Christmas tree farms in this state [North Carolina] is Hispanic, mostly Mexican," Greene told Efe. Since the 1980's, Mexicans have come to work long, hard hours on the pine tree farms, hired by farmers through work visa programs.
This year's White House tree comes to the nation's capital from Peak Farms in Jefferson, North Carolina, which is owned by Rusty and Beau Estes. The 19-foot Fraser fir was received last Friday by first lady, Michelle Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia, and even the family dog, Bo.
In addition to the indoor White House Tree, there is also The National Christmas Tree, which is displayed outdoors.
While it's disputed who began the indoor Christmas tree tradition at the White House, President Calvin Coolidge and First Lady Grace Coolidge were the first to start the outdoor "National Christmas Tree" tradition in 1923.
This year marks the 90th National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony which will take place on Thursday, December 6 at 5:00 PM ET. The national lighting ceremony can be attended in person at the Ellipse with tickets, or viewed on PBS or online at TheNationalTree.org.
Visitors will be able to see the lit National Christmas Tree and the decorated fifty-six smaller trees which represent the 50 states, five U.S. territories, and D.C. daily all lit up after dusk until 10 PM each evening until New Years Day.