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What is the origin of Christmas lights?

There is something rather mesmerizing about the twinkle that is embellished from outdoor Christmas lights. Not only do they have the power to create a warm, welcoming environment, but they also are a nice added touch around the holiday season. However, have you ever wondered where the tradition of decorating your home with bright, outdoor lighting came from? Well, let’s untangle the history.

Early history

Historically, Christmas lights have only been used since electricity became the everyday norm, but dating back as far as the 17th century, eastern European families, particularly German, possessed light displays outside their homes that consisted of burning candles. Their trees at Christmas time were also delicately decorated with small candles that were attached using pins or melted wax. Only lit for a few minutes per night, traditionally this was a Christian custom to signal to other Christians that they were welcome to come worship inside their home. A far different expression for the use of lights when compared to our extravagant, modern-day displays.

The rise of electric bulbs

Then Thomas Edison changed the world with his fantastic advancement in technology, the lightbulb. In 1880, Edison introduced the world to the lights displayed on the outside of his laboratory compound, marking the first outdoor display of Christmas lights. Edward Johnson, an inventor under the supervision of Edison, also created the first string of Christmas lights a couple of years later. It was made out of 80 small electric light bulbs and went on to be mass produced in 1890.

Public displays of lights in retail stores and on government buildings started to become popular in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century. However, they weren’t very affordable until many years later. That being said, outdoor light displays are now a symbol of the holiday season.

Today’s Christmas lights

Many people, government buildings and municipalities now use incandescent Christmas lights, rather than candles, to offer a twinkling display around the holidays. Light-emitting diode, or LED, lights are more energy-efficient light options that help to reduce your carbon emission and electric bill. So, why not enjoy your festive Christmas lights and save a little money in the process.

Do you know any other interesting facts about the history of Christmas lights? Tell us in the comments section below.