Decorating Your Home for the Holidays? Here’s the History of Christmas Lights

christmas lightsHanging lights on your home and Christmas tree is natural now, something that many families participate in around the holiday season. But where did this tradition begin? And how did it become so widespread over the years?


People have had the idea to put lights in trees and around their homes for much longer than Christmas lights were around. Originally, people put candles in trees to decorate for the season. As you can imagine, this led to many fires and increased safety concerns over the years. In 1880, Thomas Edison crafted a set of Christmas lights with which he decorated his office with. By that time, he had light bulbs figured out, but was struggling with a way to market them more widely. He decided that he would hang these lights that he had strung around his laboratory in a way that would allow commuters on the nearby railway to see them. Two years later, Edward Johnson, Edison’s business partner, had the first electrically illuminated Christmas tree at his New York home. In 1892, General Electric purchased the patent rights to Edison’s bulbs and the phenomenon of Christmas lights was born. In 1895, President Grover Cleveland had the first electrically-lit White House Christmas Tree, converting people all over the country to Christmas lights as opposed to candles in their trees and home.


For Christmas this year, the U.S. is on track to spend $6 billion in Christmas decorations, much of which will come from Christmas lights alone. With retailers now selling Christmas trees donned in lights without you having to put them on yourself, a new wave of Christmas light selling has begun. Retailers have also taken up selling Christmas trees in stores and online, hoping to also encourage shoppers to put some lights in their carts as well. A holiday tradition has turned into a heavy marketing tactic, which is really no different than Edison’s initial ideas over 100 years ago.

About the Author: Sarah is a guest contributor from Michigan Cedar Products, a company focusing on log and timber products for your home.

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