The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Beams through Joyful Season
Christmas Tree and Christmas Decoration in front of the Rockefeller Center, Manhattan, New York City (2011) from

As the Thanksgiving holiday ends and the month of December starts, the holidays loom ahead. To be precise, the time range of the holiday season according to  Merriam Webster is “the time from late November through January when several holidays (such as Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s Eve) happen.” This officially means that the holiday season is in full swing. One of the events that marked the beginning of the holidays was the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, which took place on November 29.

For almost a century, visiting the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree has been an annual holiday tradition for many individuals and is one of the most special New York experiences at this time of year.

This year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony was a two-hour live show hosted by Kelly Clarkson that included  several famous singers and performers, such as Cher, Keke Palmer, Chloe Bailey, Barry Manilow, The Rockettes, Katharine McPhee, David Foster, Adam Blackstone, Manuel Turizo, Liz Gillies, Carly Pearce, Seth MacFarlane, and Darlene Love.


History of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

Many people know and have seen the glamorous and gigantic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lit up. Nonetheless, how did the tradition start and how has it changed over years? Well, according to Rockefeller Center, the tradition began all the way back in 1931.


1931 – The First Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

During the Great Depression, workers at the Rockefeller Center pooled their money to buy a 20-foot balsam fir decorated with handmade garlands in 1931. The tree symbolized optimism and hope during such a difficult time in the world, particularly the United States.


1933 – First Tree Lighting Ceremony

The year of 1933 marked the beginning of a new tradition as the first Rockefeller Tree Lighting Ceremony was held.


1942 – During World War II

During World War II, trees at the Rockefeller Center had to be unlit due to black regulation every Christmas until after the war. In spite of that, in 1942, the Rockefeller Center displayed three small trees decorated in red, white and blue in front of a big tree to promote patriotism.


1999 – Largest Tree in Rockefeller Center

Fast forward in time, the Rockefeller Center presented the largest Christmas tree in the tradition’s history in 1999. The tree came from Killingworth, Connecticut, and stood 100 feet tall.


2001 – Patriotic Design Once More

After the terrorist attacks on September 11, the Rockefeller Center decorated the tree once again with red, white and blue colors.


2018 – A New Swarovski Star For the Rockefeller Center

A new Swarovski star topped the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, which was designed by an architect, Daniel Libeskind, in 2018. The star featured three million Swarovski crystals, 70 triangular spikes, and was backlit by LEDs. 


Background on the 2023 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

According to, this year’s Christmas tree is 80 feet tall, is made of Norway Spruce, comes from Vestal, NY, and weighs 12 tons. The tree was decorated in 50,000 multicolored lights, and on top, stands a Swarovski crystal star.


The tree was founded by Rockefeller Center head gardener Erik Pauze who’s been picking the Rockefeller Center Christmas trees for the past 30 years. He was so captivated when he saw the big Norway Spruce that he went to introduce himself to Matt and Jackie McGinley, who owned the tree. The couple recalls that they thought it was crazy when one day Erik came to their driveway and asked permission to look at their tree. Nonetheless, they generously donated their tree to bring others tons of joy in this holiday season. “This is not about us, but it’s about being of service to other people, giving them that chance to go and make memories by the tree,” Jackie said. 


Altogether, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is full of history and hard work that goes in displaying such a big and colorful tree. It is where wonderful moments are made every year, and it’s simply a crucial part of the holiday season. The tree is lit daily from 5 a.m. through midnight until January 13th at 10 p.m. It is highly recommended to visit it this holiday season and see its spectacular display!

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About the Contributor
Yui Kaito
Yui Kaito, Guest Writer
Yui Kaito ('27) is excited to be a Guest Writer for The Echo this year. She loves to write, read, and spend time outside. In her free time, she likes to exercise, eat, write in her journal, and spend time with her family.