How To & Tips

The History of Christmas Lights

Christmas is all about our traditions. From presents, Christmas trees, stockings above the fireplace to those colorful Christmas lights, these time-honored traditions let us know it’s the holiday season and remind us to spend time with those we care about. But do you ever stop to think about where this tradition even came from? Who strung up the first set of Christmas lights—and did we even always use colorful, electric bulbs?

Here, we’re taking a closer look at the unique history of Christmas lights and how they’ve evolved into one of our most cherished holiday traditions. We also look at some innovative ways you can use LED Christmas lights to make your December even brighter this year. Read on to learn how and why we light up our trees and neighborhoods each December.

outdoor Christmas lights
We also look at some innovative ways you can use LED Christmas lights to make your December even brighter this year.

1 The Interesting And Unique History of Christmas Lights

When December rolls around each year, it doesn’t take long to start seeing colorful lights populate the landscape. It’s no secret that we love Christmas lights. Decorating our Christmas trees, rooftops, windows, and parks, Christmas lights are one of the most common and popular holiday traditions. But have you ever stopped to think about where exactly this tradition comes from? Well, we’re here to shine some light on this holiday classic.

While electric Christmas lights only date back a few hundred years, the concept of Christmas lights goes back much further. Before the advent of electricity, candles were commonly used to light up Christmas trees. The origin of these Christmas lights, like most historical traditions, is still up for debate.

electric Christmas lights
Electric Christmas lights only date back a few hundred years; the concept of Christmas lights goes back much further.

Some point to Martin Luther as the father of the Protestant Reformation and many of our Christmas traditions. The legend goes that Martin Luther wished to recreate the starlight he saw twinkling between pine trees while out on his evening walks. He brought in a pine tree to honor the season and used candles to play this scene for illumination. This idea caught and spread as candles became associated with Christmas and were seen as a symbol to represent the light of Jesus.

While candles might look nice adorning a Christmas tree, this isn’t exactly the safest option. It doesn’t take a lot to realize the inherent risk of lighting up a dry tree with open flames, which may partially lead us to electric Christmas lights. In 1882, Edward H. Johnson was the first to assemble a string of electric Christmas lights. Johnson revolutionized this holiday tradition with a series of 80 red, white, and blue bulbs adorning his tree, white, and blue bulbs.

Electric LED Candles
While candles might look nice adorning a Christmas tree, this isn’t exactly the safest option.

However, most advancements don’t catch on overnight. It took years for people to start buying and using Christmas lights due to the high cost. But in 1894, US President Grover Cleveland used electric Christmas lights on the White House Christmas tree for the first time, and their popularity soared. By the 1930s and 40s, Christmas lights were a common sight all over the country.

But to achieve that level of popularity, Christmas lights needed to become marketable. We can owe this step of progress to Albert Sadacca, whose family owned a lighting company. In 1917, Albert proposed a plan to begin selling colorful strings of Christmas lights. Now that they were more affordable and easier to produce, this plan didn’t take long to take off. Albert then went on to form the National Outfit Manufacturers Association (NOMA) that led the Christmas lights industry for decades to come.

Now, Christmas lights have become an essential part of any Christmas display. Whether traditional incandescent bulbs or newer LED Christmas lights, these decorations add a unique and magical glow to any holiday scene. You can even invest in some of the latest technology in Christmas lights that allows you to create light patterns and animatronic displays from your smartphone. Without a doubt, it’s easy to see how Christmas lights have come a long way over the years.

LED Christmas lights
Christmas lights have become an essential part of any Christmas display.

2 Innovative Ways to Use LED Christmas Lights

Now that you know a little bit more about the history of Christmas lights, it’s time to start planning out your very own holiday display. Christmas lights are genuinely one of the most versatile holiday decorations out there since you can use them in so many unique and creative ways. Let’s face it: there’s only so much you can do with your Christmas tree. But with Christmas lights, especially LED Christmas lights, the only limit to how you can use them is the size of your space and your imagination.

Here’s a look at some innovative ways to use Christmas lights this year:

  • Wrap them around mirrors and windows.
  • Hang them over your bed for a cozy look.
  • Drape them over shelves and bookcases.
  • Poke holes in a canvas and string up LED Christmas lights.
  • Fill up a row of baskets or bowls.
  • Light up used wine bottles for a classy look.
  • Use sticks and other materials for a unique Christmas wreath.
cozy lights
Hang them over your bed for a cozy look.

CONCLUSION – The History of Christmas Lights

It just wouldn’t feel like the holidays without Christmas lights adorning our trees, rooftops, yards, and even our office buildings. With an array of unique colors, patterns, and countless design options, Christmas lights are one of the most versatile—and simply fun—ways to decorate your home for the holidays. We’ve come a long way from using candles to light up our Christmas trees every December. Even though we may be using advanced LED Christmas lights, the spirit of these lights remains true to the origin of this tradition.

Nowadays, it’s hard to walk down a neighborhood street without seeing colorful Christmas lights during the holidays. There are many unique and creative ways to use Christmas lights to show off your holiday spirit from your Christmas tree, railings, patio, windows, and even your cars. Once Thanksgiving is over, it’s time for many families to unpack their LED Christmas lights and bring some brightness to the holidays.

LED Christmas lights
It’s time for many families to unpack their LED Christmas lights and bring some brightness to the holidays.
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