The holiday season doesn't officially begin until the president illuminates the National Christmas Tree. The tradition, which began in 1923, has certainly changed with the times (the tree has a Twitter account!), but one thing has remained the same: The event is wildly popular.
If you don't already have tickets to the Thursday lighting on the Ellipse (there was an online lottery this fall), never fear -- you can behold the mammoth evergreen and listen to live music every night.
The eight nights of Hanukkah commence with the lighting of the self-proclaimed world's largest menorah on the Ellipse, where visitors also can snack on hot latkes, spin dreidels and listen to the U.S. Army Band perform.
Aside from being the location for numerous popular events including public concerts, the White House Easter Egg Roll, The Pageant of Peace and the National Christmas Tree, the Ellipse also marks the zero mile point from which distances in Washington are measured.
The grounds are also the home to several small monuments. These include the Settlers Memorial honoring those on whose land the Federal City was built, the Zero Milestone and the Boy Scout Memorial. Military monuments are also found here, including the First Division Monument, also referred to as "Victory," which honors men from the First Armored Division of the U.S. Army who fought and died in World War I, and the Second Division Monument, which honors the men who fought in both World Wars with the Second Division.
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