Being President of the United States certainly has its advantages, but there are also many traditions and rules to respect. Just because you’re the leader of the United States doesn’t mean you can do anything you want. Although not all rules are immutable, it is generally expected that they will be respected. Read on to discover the surprising rules and traditions that the First Family is supposed to observe during its stay at the White House.
15. Don’t open the windows!
Although there are many advantages to living in America’s most famous and historic house, there are also many restrictions. First, no one has the right to open the White House windows.
According to Michelle Obama, opening windows and letting fresh air in is something she really missed during her time in the White House.
14. A presidential funeral
One of the first things a president must do when he takes office is to plan his funeral. “This may sound shocking, but in the first week of his arrival in the White House, the president is invited to plan his funeral in case something happens during his presidency,” said George W. Bush’s assistant.
13. Moving indoors
You may be surprised to learn that the First Family is forced to pay the bill to move into the White House. They move in with a moving company of their choice, but movers are not allowed to enter the White House itself.
12. Imported wine
You can find just about anything you want on the White House menus, but there is one item that will never be served inside the White House: imported wine. Cooks go to great lengths to ensure that the food and beverages served come from the United States.
One of the benefits that the President and the First Family lose when they take office is the pleasure of driving. None of them are allowed to drive on public roads, for safety reasons of course. The most recent president authorized to drive on a public road was Lyndon B. Johnson.
10. Interior design
The White House does not have an interior designer on staff, so it is up to the first lady to hire the decorator the First Family wants. Hiring occurs relatively quickly after the family arrives at the White House.
Wherever the president travels, you can be sure that what is called “Football” is not far behind. Football is the nickname of the briefcase that constantly follows the president. Its content is largely unknown to the public, but we suspect that it is very important! The only thing we know is that the case weighs about 45 pounds.
8. Easter Egg
The White House Easter eggs are an age-old tradition where children roll Easter eggs with a spoon in a race across the White House lawn. It dates back to 1878, although some claim that the tradition began with President Lincoln.
7. Decoration rules
If you think that the First Family reigns supreme in the White House, you are mistaken. The White House is more like a museum than a real house and there are rooms that the family is not allowed to change.
These rooms constitute the oval office and the Lincoln room. Some decorative changes must be approved by the Historical Committee that oversees the White House.
6. The Beat
Being President of the United States does not only mean that you have a new home, but also a new car – and a very special car too. It is known as “The Beat”, “Cadillac One” and “First Car”, even if it is not really a car.
Actually, this car looks more like a tank. Not only is it equipped with the necessary bullet-proof glass, but it is also reinforced with armor sufficient to resist a bomb. Thanks to its sealing capacity and internal oxygen system, it can also resist chemical attack.
5. Christmas Tree Themes
Jackie Kennedy began the tradition of Christmas tree themes in 1961. Her first Christmas tree theme was based on Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” during her husband’s first year in power. The tradition has remained and every year there is a new theme that is chosen by the First Lady herself.
4. January 20
Every time a new president is elected, January 20 is chosen as the day to move into the White House. The president is not allowed to move in before that date, as his predecessor still resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue until January 19.
3. Food and drink
Being President of the United States may seem to some to be a “luxurious” job, but that would be a mistake. Presidents do not live on taxpayers’ money alone. They must pay for their own food, toiletries, dry cleaning products and other personal items and services.
2. The turkey’s forgiveness
The national presentation of Thanksgiving is a ceremony that dates back to the 1940s, but it was only with Ronald Reagan that a turkey was “forgiven”, although technically the word “forgiveness” is not really used.
1. Constantly under surveillance
Once you become a member of the First Family, you lose some freedoms, such as the freedom to go where you want when you want. Once you are part of the First Family, you are under the constant supervision of the secret services.