National Christmas Tree Lighting

Since 1923, the president of the United States has participated in the lighting of the National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C. But what many people do not know, is that our 30th president, Calvin Coolidge, began the tree lighting tradition as a symbol of “America’s faith.”

Calvin Coolidge was named for the 16th-century reformer, John Calvin. In his autobiography, he described his ancestors as “English Puritan stock." He wrote: “They cherished the teachings of the Bible and sought to live in accordance with its precepts.”

When President Coolidge died in 1933, guests at his funeral sang, “Lead Kindly Light,” a hymn the lyrics of which are inspired by the Bible, in particular from Exodus 13:21, Psalm 43:3, and Jesus’s words in John 8:12: “I am the light of the world!”


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