What is the history of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree? The 2023 pick unveiled

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree – a pillar of the holiday season in Manhattan.

As soon as Halloween passes, twinkling lights and bulbed ornaments decorate the city, dancing on windowsills and swinging below storefronts. Bryant Park’s winter village opens and the famed Macy’s on 34th street welcomes customers ready to shop with green, red, white, and gold hues embellishing the grand building. But while most of New York eagerly skips the transition period, otherwise known as November, and heads straight for the cheerful chill of winter, one coveted decoration, the true marker of Christmastime, forces everyone to wait.

Since 1931, Rockefeller Center has officially signified the start of the holiday season by moving a 69- to 100-ft-tall tree inside the square. That year, for the first tree, Rockefeller Center workers banded together to come up with the means to install a 20-foot balsam fir. Kind families spent time handcrafting decorations. Now, the tree towers over the plaza of shops, adorned with colourful lights and a shining star.

After 1933, three years before the skating rink was installed below, the city decided to make the tree an annual beacon. It wasn’t until 1951 when the annual lighting ceremony was first televised on The Kate Smith Show. Whether you’re a New Yorker or out-of-state visitor, standing at the foot of the grand spruce is quintessential to the city’s holiday offerings.

This year, the plaza introduced its magnificent pick from Vestal, New York. “Meet the 2023 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree,” the Rockefeller Center posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, alongside a picture of the tree sat in between two homes.

Per their post, the tree weighs about 12 tonnes, is 80-ft tall, and will be moved into the city on 11 November. Before the lighting ceremony, the dedicated crew will decorate the gigantic addition.

Erik Pauze, the head gardener for Rockefeller Center, spoke about the Norway Spruce which was picked. “What I look for is a tree you would want in your living room, but on a grander scale. It’s got that nice, perfect shape all around,” he said.

“And most of all, it’s gotta look good for those kids who turn the corner at 30 Rock; it needs to instantly put a huge smile on their faces. It needs to evoke that feeling of happiness,” Pauze continued.

Pauze added that this type of tree “is great for the scale it can achieve. It can hold the lights on its branches, and it stands there nice and proud as the tree should”.

Streaming on both NBC and Peacock on 29 November at 8pm ET, the “Christmas in Rockefeller Center” special will be hosted by Kelly Clarkson, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker, Craig Melvin, and Hoda Kotb, featuring a myriad of celebrities, as well as guest performers.