White House – Symbols and Holiday Decorations

Every year hundreds and hundreds of screened volunteers spend much of the year executing a plan to decorate The White House and the Vice-President’s home during the year-end Holiday Season. It is possible to be a selected visitor to come and enjoy “The People’s House” and a smaller number of people may get the chance to see the VP’s home, which is situated on beautiful U.S. Navy grounds, in the diplomatic part of Washington, DC.

The whole affair is oriented towards Xmas, which is a shame. As there is separation of church and state, this seems strange, but the United States regards itself as a “Christian country”, and all the Presidents have been Christian. One day all that may change, but it’s slow progress. Yet America is still the most welcoming nation on earth, despite imperfections.

This year, Dr. Jill Biden, PhD, wife of the vice-president, did have a menorah prominently on the main mantle during Chanukah. That was gratifying to see.

The menorah used in the White House ceremony was the only one to survive hurricane Katrina, from New Orleans’ Beth Israel synagogue. Ben Retik, whose father was killed September 11, 2001 and whose mother received the Presidential Citizen’s Medal for 2010, for her work advancing global women’s freedom and American Ideals and help for Afghan war widows, lit the shamus candle on the menorah and then his two younger sisters, Dina and Rebeca, lit the Hanukkah candles. The attendees included the Israeli ambassador, US Supreme Court Justices, Bryer, Ginsburg and Kagan along with an East Room audience filled to the brim.

Hanukkah in the White House

“… President Obama, Vice President Biden and the First Lady welcomed friends and leaders from the Jewish community to celebrate the second night of Hanukkah at the White House. “So on this second night of Hanukkah,” said President Obama, “Let us give thanks to the blessings that all of us enjoy. Let us be mindful of those who need our prayers. And let us draw strength from the words of a great philosopher, who said that a miracle is “a confirmation of what is possible.”

Otherwise, I did not see a menorah inside The White House, but the amount of decoration is massive there. It’s possible to have missed something. A menorah and other religion’s symbols certainly weren’t obvious.

Outside The White House, the National Christmas Tree is burning brightly after Mr. Obama lit it December 9th. The National Menorah had been lit in the same place, the Presidential Ellipse, during the 8 days of Chanukah, by a rabbi; Hanukkah was from December 1 – 9 this year.

When a public visitor enters The White House, it is through the East Wing doors. There’s a greeting area where the Military Appreciation Tree of hope, with doves of Peace, the first of 19 trees inside, is located nearby, along with the chance to send mail to military personnel (and Mr. Obama said he’ll pay the postage); so take a moment and write a letter of gratitude and hope; the mailbox is right there!

You can also participate online at: Send US Military Greetings.

The windows along the East Colonnade Gallery are hung with huge geometric wreaths of natural materials, even dried vegetables, all recycled, imaginatively, from last year.

The main public rooms of The White House are well known from photographs, but at holiday time, they take on a totally different vibe. I’ll describe many of them, next time.

Meanwhile, you can learn how to get tickets for Americans and non-Americans as well as see some helpful videos at: White House tickets and videos

Washington, DC Travel – Archived Articles

©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

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