First Lady Melania Trump poses for a photo in front of the White House Christmas tree, after it arrives at the White House, Nov. 25
First Lady Melania Trump poses for a photo in front of the White House Christmas tree, after it arrived at the White House, Nov. 25, 2019. (Patsy Widakuswara/VOA)

WHITE HOUSE - The holiday season officially began at the White House Monday, as first lady Melania Trump received the 2019 White House Christmas tree.
 
Unlike last year, President Donald Trump did not attend the tree presentation.
 
The tree arrived by jingle bell-adorned horse and carriage, continuing an annual White House tradition to highlight the holiday spirit.
 
“Just a few decades earlier they were still delivering the tree in pick-up trucks,” said historian Matthew Costello from the White House Historical Association. “So it’s nice that they’ve made it more festive, to do it with a Christmas-themed sled and a drawn carriage,” Costello added.
 
This year's tree, is a 5.6 meters tall Douglas fir grown by Larry Snyder of Mahantongo Valley Farms in Pennsylvania, winner of the National Christmas Tree Association’s Christmas tree contest.

First lady Melania Trump poses with the 2019 White House Christmas tree as it is delivered to the White House in Washington, Nov. 25, 2019. The tree came from the Pennsylavia farm of Larry Snyder, third from left, pictured here with his family.

As the winner, Snyder has the honor of presenting a Christmas tree to the White House. He called it, “a memorable experience of a lifetime for our family, especially for our children and grandchildren, who are accompanying us for the presentation.”
 
The first lady chatted with Snyder and took pictures with the Snyder family.
 
Holiday tree tradition
 
The National Christmas Tree Association has presented the official White House Christmas Tree every year since 1966. Each year’s tree has to fit the exact specifications of the White House Blue Room, where it is displayed as part of the holiday décor with a theme selected by the first lady.
 
Jacqueline Kennedy started the tradition of selecting a theme for the official White House Christmas tree in 1961.

President John F. Kennedy and first lady Jaqueline Kennedy are see standing next to the White House Christmas tree in a picture taken during the 1961 holiday season. (Source - John F. Kennedy Presidential Library)

Historian Costello said that the choice of themes tells us a little bit about the president and first lady who are living there.  He said it shows “what they see as important to have this representation on the traditional Christmas tree.”
 
Melania Trump is scheduled to unveil the theme of her 2019 White House Christmas décor in early December.
 
Next up in the White House holiday events schedule is the Thanksgiving turkey pardon by President Trump later this week.