January 17, 2018

The History of Christmas Lights

through-the-yearsThe magical sight of Christmas lights certainly has come a long way, from the candles of the seventeenth century to the impressive electric displays of today. Even more impressive, perhaps, is the newest form of Christmas lighting that’s sweeping the nation: solar powered Christmas lights.

Just how did this evolution of Christmas lights take place? Enlighten yourself with the history of Christmas lights.

Blazing Beginnings:

As early as the seventeenth century, the wealthiest of Germans began lighting up Christmas trees to symbolize Jesus, light of the world. Since this was before electricity, candles were used. Initially, the candles were pinned to the branches or joined with melted wax.  By the early 1900’s, candleholders and small lanterns were utilized. This tradition of Christmas tree lighting soon spread to Eastern Europe, and via emigration to North American and Australia.

Johnson’s Jolly Idea:

Not until December 22, 1882 were electric Christmas lights used. Edward Johnson, assistant to Thomas Edison, created the first strand of electric Christmas lights. The eighty small bulbs adorned his household Christmas tree, and twenty years later were mass-produced and sold commercially.

Sadacca’s Safety Solution:

While electric lights now existed, candles still were used. When a 1917 fire caused by Christmas candles occurred in New York City, Albert Sadacca sought a safety solution. Before long, he invented safety Christmas lights and started the world’s largest Christmas lighting company, NOMA Electric.

Lighting Landmarks:

Electric Christmas lights had become all the rage. In 1895, Grover Cleveland had the first electrically lit Christmas tree in the White House. San Diego in 1904 and New York City in 1912 were the first cities to decorate with them outdoors. The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in New York was first lit with 700 lights in 1931. Eventually electric lights made their way from major landmarks to average households nationwide.

LED Lights:

In an effort to conserve energy, many Americans began to decorate with LED Christmas lights in the late 1990’s. These lights required less electricity to shine and were environmentally safe. Many notable displays made the switch to LED Christmas lights, including the Capitol Christmas tree in 2006 and the Rockefeller Center tree in 2007.

Solar Spectacle:

As concern for the environment grew, people began to deck the halls with solar powered LED Christmas lights. Solar Christmas lights are powered by the sun’s rays and therefore require no electricity whatsoever. As green living continues to spread in America, these revolutionary lights have been bursting onto the scene of Christmas displays nationwide.

While the style of Christmas lights drastically has evolved, their magical glimmer has remained constant. No one knows what the Christmas lights of the future will be, but one thing is certain: the future’s looking bright!