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Obama Family Lights National Christmas Tree


President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters Sasha and Malia attend the annual National Christmas Tree Lighting on the Ellipse, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011, Washington.

President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters Sasha and Malia attend the annual National Christmas Tree Lighting on the Ellipse, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011, Washington.

The Christmas season officially came to Washington Thursday when U.S. President Barack Obama and his family lit the National Christmas Tree.

The eight-meter-tall spruce, covered by blue and green lights and topped by a dazzling white star, is standing in its traditional place on an area behind the White House called the Ellipse.

Before throwing the switch to light the tree, Mr. Obama reminded all Americans to help those in need this holiday season, including the homeless, the hungry, the sick, and shut-ins, regardless of color or faith.

This year's tree is a new one, replacing the old tree which stood since 1978 before a windstorm blew it down in February.

This is the 89th year a U.S. president lit up the National Christmas Tree, a holiday tradition started by President Calvin Coolidge in 1923.

Christmas Tree Lights Around the World

Photos of Christmas trees and lighting ceremonies everywhere from the White House to Bulgaria:

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