Image Source: Unsplash / Ibrahim Boran
The holidays bring so many treasured traditions, like making yummy treats, decking the halls with decor, wearing matching PJs, and, of course, decorating a Christmas tree. Even if your own tree isn't up yet, New Yorkers are hard at work setting up the city's famous Rockefeller Christmas Tree. This year's tree is the 88th one to be displayed at the historic site, and it has officially arrived in New York and will be lighting up Rockefeller Plaza in just a few short weeks. Whether you're making your way to Manhattan to see the tree in person or you plan to enjoy its grandeur from the comfort of your own home, here's everything you need to know about this almost 90-year-old tradition!
When Is the Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting 2021?
This year's Rockefeller Center Christmas tree will be lit on Dec. 1. If you can't attend the special ceremony in person, you can watch the live broadcast "Christmas at Rockefeller Center" on NBC to feel like you're there - and as a bonus you'll admittedly be much warmer than everyone who's there in person. Though the celebrity and musical lineup has yet to be announced, you can always count on this special tree-lighting ceremony to bring out A-list talent to help ring in the holidays.
Image Source: Unsplash / Alex Haney
Where Is the Rockefeller Christmas Tree From This Year?
The tree arrived in New York City from Elkton, MD, on Nov. 13. This is the first time the Rockefeller tree has come from Maryland. The 79-foot-tall Norway Spruce was cut down on Nov. 11 and is approximated to be 85 years old and weigh12 tons. The tree was delivered to the Big Apple on a 115-foot trailer after traveling 145 miles to New York. The spruce was donated by Devon and Julie Price after the head gardener at Rockefeller Center, Erik Pauze, knocked on their door last March to inspect the tree. Though they never considered their backyard tree to be the star of Christmas in Manhattan, Devon Price says the family is "very excited to have it go to New York City."
When Did the Rockefeller Christmas Tree Tradition Start?
The first tree was decorated in 1931 when Rockefeller Center workers pooled their money to buy a 20-foot-tall balsam fir. The tree was made an annual tradition in December 1933, when it had its first official lighting ceremony. During World War II, designs were kept simple with red, white, and blue globes and wooden stars, and in 1942, "no materials essential to the war effort were used to decorate Rockefeller Center," according to the Rockefeller Center site. In fact, they state that "from 1942 until the end of the war, the Tree went unlit each year due to blackout regulations."
How Are Trees Chosen Every Year?
Trees are typically donated to the Rockefeller Center, and the company then donates the lumber from the tree after the holiday season. Erik Pauze, head gardener at Rockefeller Center, scouts nurseries and backyards in the tri-state area to look for unique trees with a "Christmas tree shape" and the capacity to support heavy ornaments. Trees are most often the Norway spruce species, and they have come from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maine, Massachusetts, and even Canada.
Image Source: Unsplash / Josh Hild
Do They Add Branches to the Rockefeller Christmas Tree?
The 2020 Rockefeller Christmas Tree was profusely mocked online for its sad stature and lack of holiday cheer - though many people thought it was rather fitting way to commemorate the difficult year. People close to the tree assembly process say that adding fake branches, much like you would an artificial tree, happens every year. This year's tree seems to be in good condition so far!
How Big Is the Star on the Rockefeller Christmas Tree?
The 900-pound star atop the tree has been used since 2018 and was designed by architect Daniel Libeskind. The star has 70 spikes and is covered in three million Swarovski crystals. Prior to the current one, the first Swarovski Star was created in 2004. For comparison, that star had only 25,000 crystals.
How Many Lights Are There on the Rockefeller Christmas Tree?
The tree is lit with over 50,000 multicolored LED lights, which is over five miles of wire.
How Long Is the Rockefeller Christmas Tree Up?
ABC 7 NY states that the tree will be on display until Jan. 16, 2022. The tree is lit daily from 6 a.m. until midnight. On Christmas Day, it's lit for 24 hours, for an entire day of merriment.