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<p>What presidents eat on Christmas&nbsp;</p>

What presidents eat on Christmas 

What does the president eat on Christmas?

Many presidents choose to spend Christmas Day away from the White House 

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Thursday 24 December 2020 15:51
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The holiday season at the White House is an elaborate affair, with celebrations and decorations often beginning weeks before Christmas Day.

After all, as one of the most recognisable houses in the world, it is not surprising that Christmas at the mansion includes beloved traditions such as a specific theme, Christmas trees in the double digits, and a gingerbread mansion.

But when it comes to Christmas dinner, first families often bring their own traditions and influences to the meal, with White House chefs typically altering menus to the current family-in-residence’s liking.

Other first families have chosen to spend their Christmases away from the famous mansion, with both President George HW Bush and President George W Bush opting to celebrate the holiday at Camp David, while President Obama and his family spent the holiday each year in Hawaii.

From George Washington to President Trump, this is what US presidents and their families have had on the table Christmas Day.

Read more: Christmas traditions at the White House

George Washington 

The first-ever president and his wife Martha Washington often spent their Christmases at their estate Mount Vernon, where they celebrated the holiday with family and friends.

According to the estate’s historical site, “there are, unfortunately, no surviving descriptions of a Christmas dinner at Mount Vernon,” however, a cookbook written by the first lady includes a recipe for one dish that likely would have been on the menu - a Christmas pie.

George Washington often celebrated Christmas at Mount Vernon

The recipe penned by the country’s first first lady calls for a savoury pastry that is stuffed with turkey, goose, pigeon, and chicken, baked and spiced with salt, black pepper, nutmeg, and cloves.

Franklin D Roosevelt 

Christmas celebrations during the presidency of the country's 32nd president were usually elaborate affairs held at the White House.

According to the White House Historical Association, President Roosevelt spent 10 of his 12 years in office at the White House on Christmas, where family and staff joined in the celebrations.

For Christmas Dinner, the menu typically featured “a number of family favourites such as roasted turkey, chestnut dressing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, pineapple salad, and calf’s head soup”.

For dessert, the family enjoyed plum pudding, eggnog, ice cream and cakes.

However, during World War II, the Roosevelt family celebrated the holiday with a much smaller Christmas dinner that included a menu of clear soup, thin toast, turkey and dressing, and Winston Churchill as a guest.

Dwight Eisenhower 

President Dwight Eisenhower and his wife Mamie Eisenhower spent most of their Christmases at the White House beginning in 1955, according to the White House Historical Association, which notes that the holiday was especially important to the first family.

The annual Christmas dinner was often supplemented with gifts from well-wishers, with a delegation from St Mary's County, Maryland, sending a 42-pound turkey and two gallons of oysters to the White House in 1957.

Richard Nixon

In 1973, just months before he would resign from office, President Nixon, his family and friends celebrated Christmas with a simple meal at the White House.

Much like a typical Thanksgiving, the meal included roast turkey and dressing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, according to The New York Times.

Bill Clinton

During the Clinton presidency, the first family celebrated the holiday at the White House, where they had a Southern-inspired Christmas dinner in honour of their Arkansas roots.

“They sent over some recipes from their homeland, Arkansas,” former White House chef John Moeller previously told Today. “Pepper-crusted ham was a big favourite - and sweet potato casserole. One of Chelsea’s favourites was plain sweet potato.”

The Clintons enjoyed Christmas dinner at the White House 

The Clintons were also served Bing cherry jello salad, which Moeller said was a “favourite of theirs too but only for Christmas day”.

During President Clinton’s last Christmas in the White House in 2000, the family dined on traditional dishes such as roast turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, roasted vegetables and corn-bread stuffing, according to the Los Angeles Times, while fresh cooked pepper ham was also on the menu.

George W Bush 

Like his father, President Bush and his family spent their Christmases at Camp David, the president’s country residence in Maryland.

According to the White House archives from President Bush’s time in office, the Christmas Day menu at Camp David in 2007 consisted of roast turkey, cornbread dressing, pancetta green beans, sweet potato casserole, fresh fruit salad and parker house rolls.

President Bush and his family had Christmas dinner at Camp David

For dessert, the family enjoyed pumpkin and pecan pies and red velvet cake.

Barack Obama 

All of President Obama’s Christmases during his time as president were spent on vacation in Hawaii with his family.

The Obamas spend Christmas in Hawaii each year 

During their annual vacations, the former first family often skipped traditional Christmas Day foods, with their 2010 Christmas dinner consisting of steak, roast potatoes, and green beans, according to The Hill.

Donald Trump 

Like the majority of his four years in office, President Trump is expected to spend the holidays at his club Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida.

While a recent Christmas dinner menu is not available, a photo of Mar-a-Lago’s Christmas Dinner menu in 2016 showed guests could choose from options such as a wedge salad or colossal crab cocktail for their first course.

For the entree, guests had the option to choose from a traditional turkey dinner, filet mignon, cashew-crusted short ribs, pan-seared sea bass, roasted king salmon or herb-crusted lamb loin.

However, the family reportedly does not overindulge for the holiday as first lady Melania Trump revealed during a 2017 visit to the Children’s National hospital in Washington DC, that the family typically eats “healthy food” on Christmas Day and that they “feel very good after”.

President Trump often spends Christmas at Mar-a-Lago

“You feel very good after. Not too much eating,” she said.

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