History of Christmas lights

Staff Writer

With the holiday season approaching, many families light their houses with colorful Christmas lights and decorations to be in the holiday spirit. But where did the whole idea of this tradition come from?

Christmas lights were first used by the Germans in the 1700-1800’s, and only by those who were wealthy. At the time, these lights came in the form of candles which were either glued or pinned to the tree branches. The purpose of this method of lighting the Christmas tree, was to light the ornaments placed on the branches. Then in the beginning of the 1900’s, people started to use candle holders to hold the lights placed on the tree, moving away from having to glue the entire light on the tree itself. 15 years later, small lanterns and glass balls were being used to keep the candle in place.

Edward Johnson, assistant to Thomas Edison, had come up with the idea to place an electric light on the tree instead of candles. Johnson’s first experiment to light an actual tree, electrically, was displayed in New York City. He placed 80 little electric bulbs all around a tree resulting in a successful lighting. It was only 20 years later that the purchasing of lights skyrocketted. When people were able to get a hold of them, stores lit up and Christmas lights went into mass production amongst the population everywhere.
Today Christmas lights are not only used to light trees, but for outside decoration as well. Such as on houses, lawns, bushes, and some even made into the shapes of reindeer, Santa and his sleigh, Candy Canes, and Angels only to name a few.

There are even some houses that are really in the holiday spirit who go above and beyond every one’s expectations. It is estimated that some households have a total of over 150,000 lights on the house: covering the top of the house and completely covering the grass, not including the lights inside the home. Not only must these master decorators love the holiday joy it brings, but they must also be dedicated to the decoration, knowing their December electricity bill will be increased immensely .

So as we get into the holiday spirit and begin to decorate our houses and our Christmas trees, remember where the first actual Christmas tree lights first came from. Hats off to Edward Johnson for bringing this lighting innovation to our list of Christmas traditions.

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