As you drive around your neighborhood this time of year, you’re likely to see many homes illuminated with lights. The Christmas light tradition has evolved throughout the years, but have you ever wondered how it all began?
The idea of using light as a holiday decorating tradition originated from Christmas trees. Upper class homes in Germany began using Christmas trees as decor in the 18th century, and often decorated the trees with candles. This was mainly an upper class tradition because at the time, candles were fairly expensive. Candles used for Christmas trees were glued with melted wax to a tree branch or attached with pins. Around the 1890’s, candleholders replaced the method of gluing candles or attaching them to pins. It’s hard to imagine burning candles on a Christmas tree, especially when the Christmas tree dries out!
Electric lights as Christmas decorations were part of the Thomas Edison era. In 1882 Edward H. Johnson, an associate of the inventor Thomas Edison, had Christmas tree light bulbs created just for them, and displayed them on his Christmas tree in New York. The story was published in a Detroit newspaper, and as a result, Edward H. Johnson became known as “the father of electric Christmas tree lights”.
By 1900, businesses were using lights in their window displays, but they were still too expensive for most average families to afford. It wasn’t until 1930 when Christmas lights became common in homes and replaced the candles that had been previously used.
From candles to electric lights to the LED lights we use today, Christmas lights are a tradition that has spanned the years and continues to bring joy and light to our holiday season.
Happy Holidays from The Daily Dish!
Sources for this article: About.com, Wikipedia.