An Introduction to the History of Christmas Tree Lights
Have you ever wondered about the history of Christmas lights? You probably understand that electricity was not around at the birth of Jesus; so, when did the populace begin associating electrical lights with the birth of the Savior?
Christmas Lights Began with Fire
Christmas lights, also known as fairy lights, are used around the world in Christmas displays and decoration during the holiday season. The tradition started when Christmas trees were lit using candles. The light from these candles was to symbolize Christ as the “light of the world.”
Early Germans (1500 to 1800) were the first people to bring Christmas trees indoor and decorate them with candles. However, because the candles used to light the Christmas trees posed a fire hazard, Christmas trees were not brought into the home until a couple of days before Christmas and immediately disposed of following the holidays. The Germans attached the candles to the Christmas tree using either melted wax or pins.
The danger associated with using candles was so great that Christians would keep constant watch and have buckets of water or sand on hand to douse the tree should a fire occur. Additionally, the candles were only allowed to burn 15 to 30 minutes before they were extinguished.
Additionally, Christians placed candles in their windows to let passersby know that a Christian resided in the home. These candles were an invitation for other Christians to enter the home and worship with them. Finally, Yule Logs were used in Germany as early as 1184.
Early Christmas celebration often used Yule Logs, Christmas trees lit with candles and candle in the windows; however, light has played an important role in Winter festivals even before the birth of Jesus.
During the winter solstice, fire and light were used. Lighting fires and candles during the darkest day of the year not only provided warmth but was also thought to encourage warmth and light to return from the Sun.
The Invention of Modern Christmas Lights
Thomas Edison was an inventor, showman, and businessman. He would entertain investors and businessmen on the first floor of the Menlo Park Laboratory with his phonograph concerts. Additionally, Thomas Edison was the first person to ever use electric Christmas lights during the holidays.
Edison kept an incandescent light bulb burning for thirteen and a half hours in 1879. Later the same year, he was able to invent bulbs that continued to burn brightly for more than forty hours.
By the Christmas holiday of 1880, Edison hung the first electric Christmas lights in his home and around the Menlo Park Laboratory. According to an article in the New York Times on December 21, 1880, Edison hosted a private exhibition for approximately forty gentlemen, including those in the New York City government, to explain the principles behind his electric lights and showcase his display.
While the purpose of the private exhibition was about business and replacing the city’s current gas lights with new electric one, many reported that they were impressed that the glass globes were shiny and clean. The 800 lights used was a sight to behold, according to attendees.
Many have debated whether Edison’s original intent was to associate his electric lights with Christmas; however, the timing of the introduction of these strings of electric lights made people associate them with Christmastime.
At the end of his demonstration, he held a private phonograph concert and a meal featuring roasted turkey, duck, ham and chicken salad.
It wasn’t long until Edward H. Johnson, Edison’s partner, used these electrical lights to eliminate his own Christmas tree. Eighty red, white and blue lights were hand-wired and strung on to his Christmas tree. Mr. Johnson’s illuminated Christmas tree was visible through the windows in his home and crowds would gather outside to witness this electrical engineering feat.
Nowadays, Christmas tree lights are used to illuminate homes, windows, villages and Christmas trees around the world. In Texas, Houston Christmas lighting is one of the most important things. Those bright, twinkling lights are found throughout the city both inside the homes and outdoors, signaling the beginning of the holiday season.
For more lighting tips, tricks, and trends call or contact Robert Huff Illumination & Outdoor Lighting today!