Herbert and Lou Hoover

A Feather Tree

Planning for the first Hoover administration Christmas began shortly after the President was inaugurated in March, 1929. Although the tradition of the National Christmas Tree began during the Coolidge administration, President Hoover ordered a new national Christmas tree to be erected in Sherman Square in downtown Washington for the 1929 holidays and became the first President to give a speech at the lighting of the tree.

Christmas 1929 was memorable for the Hoovers because an electrical fire broke out in the West Wing of the White House during a children's party. The Oval Office was gutted, but Mrs. Hoover kept the party going. The following year the same children were invited back for another party at which time each child was given a toy fire engine as a memento. The invitations to the 1930 party read as follows: "This is not like the Christmas parties you usually go to...for Santa Claus has sent word that he is not going to be able, by himself, to take care of all the little girls and boys he wants to this year, and he has asked other people to help him as much as possible. So if you bring some presents with you, we will send them all to him to distribute." The party was an enormous success.

As the Great Humanitarian who saved the lives of hundreds of millions of people, Herbert Hoover lived the message of Christmas every day of his life. "Peace on Earth, Goodwill Toward Men" could easily have been his personal motto.

The feather tree is one that the Hoovers took with them to celebrate Christmas during their travels around the world.



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