National Christmas Tree Lighting Lottery On Now! (ends Monday, 11/7 at 10 a.m.)

You've probably been busy raking up fallen leaves and--if you're living in the northeast United States--you most likely had to dig out the snow shovel this past weekend. The end of the year brings yard work, shorter days, and slippery sidewalks, but it also brings the holiday season! If you are already antsy about the twelve days of Christmas, you can settle some of your eagerness and try your luck with a gamble.

Today is the first day of the National Christmas Tree Lighting lottery!

The tree lighting ceremony, an 89-year-old time-honored tradition presented by the National Park Service and National Park Foundation, began with President Coolidge in 1923. Since then the location of the tree has shifted around the grounds of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and the lighting ceremony and associated events have varied. The National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is scheduled to take place on December 1st--rain or shine--on the ellipse located south of the White House.

This special evening has grown to be such a celebrated event that this year space has been designated for an additional 4,500 people. A total of 3,000 ticketed seats and 14,000 standing room tickets will be given out. To win tickets to the tree lighting ceremony, here's what you need to do (it's one easy step):

Apply for the lottery. You will have to sign-up with the website recreation.gov if you are not already a member--it won't cost you a penny. You can request up to five free tickets and select your preference for seats or standing room tickets. The lottery closes on Monday, November 7th at 10 a.m. Don't wait till the last minute!

Winners of the lottery will be notified by mail around November 14th. However, if your lucky number isn't called, you can still join in on the evening's festivities by tuning in online and on-demand on the evening of December 1st.

The tree lighting ceremony kicks off the beginning of a month-long fete spreading the message of world peace and holiday cheer. The Christmas Pathway of Peace will center on the National Christmas Tree. Fifty-six smaller trees will line the pathway--one for each of the 50 states, five for each of the U.S. territories, and one representing the District of Columbia--as well as a model train display at the base of the big tree. Santa will be in his Workshop with his elves, busy prepping presents for the well-behaved, and local artists will be performing nightly. Visit www.thenationaltree.org or view the NPS news release for more information.

Image: The 2010 National Christmas Tree lights up the night's sky with LED's.
Source: NPS/Donna Spiewack