Can you imagine celebrating the holiday season without Christmas lights? In North America, it is expected that festive strings will illuminate trees, homes, and city centers throughout the month of December. But the Christmas lights we have today have been a long time coming. Its evolution began in 18th century Germany and continues to progress each year.
Candles in Germany
It is said that Christmas trees were reserved for wealthy citizens of Germany in the 1700s. Those with exorbitant amounts of money would lavish their trees with candles – an expensive and hazardous decoration.
Thomas Edison and his String of Lights
Some time after Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, he strung together a series of electric lights. In 1880, during the holiday season, he hung the strand outside his laboratory near a railroad line. Those traveling by train could see the first illuminated Christmas display.
Edward Johnson Introduces Colored Lights
Shortly after Edison began stringing lights together, a partner of his, Edward H. Johnson, wound a strand around his Christmas tree. He also colored the electric bulbs red, white, and blue.
General Electric Brings Lights to the People
Still, Christmas lights were reserved for wealthy families. It is estimated that lighting a Christmas tree in 1903 would have “cost $2000 in today’s dollars”. This prompted General Electric to offer Christmas light kits that contained strings of colorful lights.
Christmas Aglow for Everyone
In 1917, making Christmas lights common and accessible was a priority for the Sadacca family. They owned a novelty lighting company and began offering colorful stands of Christmas lights at their store. They became known as NOMA Electric Co., a popular name in Christmas lights that dominated the market for over four decades.
Today’s Christmas Lights
Today, Christmas Lights come in all shapes and sizes. People in North America, and throughout the world, choose to don their homes with festive lights. Now a days, it seems the holiday season officially begins when houses are aglow. Millions of Americans celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza and other holidays with creative lighting. They take holiday decorations to a new level, becoming inventive with one of the world’s greatest inventions.
Read more Segmation blog posts about Art and Atmosphere:
Norman Rockwell’s Artwork Inspired by the Christmas Holiday
The Stories Behind Holiday Colors
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Ahh, Christmas Lights!