Joe and Jill Biden light national Christmas tree before trip to restaurant and a cozy dinner with the Macrons ahead of formal White House state banquet on Thursday

  • The Bidens and Macrons had dinner at a Washington restaurant on Wednesday
  • It came the evening before the full pomp of a state banquet at the White House 
  • Earlier the Bidens lit the national Christmas tree in a century old tradition

A day before the full pomp of a state banquet, the Bidens ducked out of the White House for an informal dinner with the French president and his wife at a Washington restaurant. 

They picked Fiola Mare, an Italian spot on the Georgetown waterfront, for the rendezvous.

On Thursday night, President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte will be afforded the first state dinner of the Bidens’ time at the White House – complete with 200 lobsters and Napa Valley wine.

Macron is getting the full works, starting Wednesday with a visit to Arlington National Cemetery, then discussing space cooperation with Vice President at NASA headquarters in Washington.

On Thursday he heads to the White House for Oval Office talks and a joint press conference. 

Compared with Macron’s awkward relationship with President Donald Trump, the events offer a carefully choreographed display of transatlantic togetherness.

President Joe Biden and the first lady lit the national Christmas tree on Wednesday evening

President Emmanuel Macron holds a baguette while speaking during a reception honoring the French community in the US, at the French Embassy in Washington during his visit

President Emmanuel Macron holds a baguette while speaking during a reception honoring the French community in the US, at the French Embassy in Washington during his visit

Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron visited Arlington National Cemetery earlier in the day

Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron visited Arlington National Cemetery earlier in the day

But the French president signaled it would not be plain sailing, setting out his concerns about how Biden’s signature Inflation Reduction Act will channel billions of dollars to American companies

‘This is super aggressive for our business people,’ he was heard telling guests at a lunch on Wednesday. 

Earlier the Bidens marked a century-old American tradition by leading the lighting of the national Christmas tree near the White House.

‘Five, four, three, two, one!’ said Biden, as he led the crowd in a countdown before the tree blazed with color.

After lighting the tree, the Bidens left the White House for their dinner with the Macrons

After lighting the tree, the Bidens left the White House for their dinner with the Macrons

The tree stands in the Ellipse near the White House. President Calvin Coolidge participated in the first tree lighting ceremony on the Ellipse in 1923

The tree stands in the Ellipse near the White House. President Calvin Coolidge participated in the first tree lighting ceremony on the Ellipse in 1923

Hunter Biden, son Beau and wife Melissa Cohen were among the guests

Hunter Biden, son Beau and wife Melissa Cohen were among the guests

The first couple were joined by Vice President Kamala Harris and Doug Emhoff

The first couple were joined by Vice President Kamala Harris and Doug Emhoff

The president was joined by first lady Jill and host LL Cool J as the festive crowd braved damp, chilly weather.

He delivered brief remarks on American unity and promise, concluding exuberantly as Jill blew a kiss, ]From the family to you, Merry Christmas, America!’

The tradition dates back to 1923 when President Calvin Coolidge walked from the White House to the Ellipse to light a 48-foot fir tree decorated with 2,500 electric bulbs in red, white and green, as a local choir and a quartet from the U.S. Marine Band performed. The lighting ceremony has been carried out year after year—drawing thousands to Washington—with a few exceptions during times of war and national tragedy.

Yolanda Adams, left, LL Cool J and Ariana DeBose perform after President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden, lit the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse, near the White House

Yolanda Adams, left, LL Cool J and Ariana DeBose perform after President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden, lit the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse, near the White House

The current 27-foot white fir was planted just last year.

Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff joined the Bidens to watch some of the evening’s musical performances.

In 2020, due to COVID-19 health concerns, the lighting did not have a live audience. After President John F. Kennedy’s assassination on Nov. 22, 1963, President Lyndon Johnson postponed the ceremony until days before Christmas as the nation observed a thirty-day period of national mourning. And the tradition was paused from 1941 to 1945 during World War II.

CBS will broadcast the tree lighting ceremony on the evening of Dec. 18, one week before Christmas. 

This year’s ceremony included performances by the U.S. Marine Band, Ariana DeBose, Shania Twain, the Estefans and others.

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