Did you get that little or large string of lights that you bought at the store and wrapped around your tree just to add a little twinkle to your home during the holidays? Of course, the glowing Christmas tree tradition started in Europe, but the first electric Christmas lights appeared in America.
Here is a short history of the electric Christmas lights:
1879: Thomas Edison demonstrates his string of electric lights
The inventor strung the lights up at his laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey and invited on-lookers to come view them in late December. Although the official demonstration took place on New Years' Eve in 1879, many people consider Edison's innovation to be the world's first string of Christmas lights.
1882: Edward H. Johnson shows off the first electric Christmas tree
While working as vice president of the Edison Electric Light Company, Edward H. Johnson decided to try replacing the traditional candles on a Christmas tree with electric lightbulbs. This was a great idea because the open candle flame tended to set dry trees on fire and burn people's house down. Plus the lights would look spectacular.
1895: Grover Cleveland brings electric bulbs to the White House
Over a decade after Johnson's first electric light Christmas tree, President Grover Cleveland requested that the White House Christmas tree be lit with a similar, albeit more elaborate display. The Wheeling Register said the tree as "very beautifully trimmed and decorated with tiny parti-colored electric lamps in place of the old time wax candles." Whereas Johnson's electric lights were meant to attract media attention, the elaborate decorations on the White House tree were probably meant to appeal to Cleveland's three young daughters.
1903: General Electric begins selling Christmas light kits
Though many Americans wanted a Christmas tree festooned with electric lights by the 20th-century, they remained reserved for the elite and the electricians who could string them up themselves. However, General Electric (of course) took the trend mainstream when it started selling prewired Christmas lighting set with Edison incandescent bulbs in 1903.
These multicolored lights came in wooden boxes with complete instructions on how to hang the lights and replace broken bulbs. From the wording, you can tell that the Americans who'd be stringing up the lights probably didn't know what they were doing:
At one end of the lamp conductor will be found a screw attaching plug. This should be screwed into the nearest lamp socket in the room. The lamps are strung in series of eight on these festoons on loops of cord radiating from a junction box. This junction plug can be fastened to the decoration in an inconspicuous place and the festoons of cord with lamps can then be draped about the decoration and entwined as desired.
The General Electric kit sold for $12 for a three-festoon set—that would be about $325 today—kits could soon be found for as little as $1.50. Other companies like the American Eveready Company (now known just as Eveready) also sold socket-ready strings of lights for high prices. Consumers could also rent lights from local stores.
Now, fast forward to the present.
2014: Beautiful Christmas Trees at Bel Aire Senior Living
Here is 0ur favorite way to light up the season is with a colorful array of Christmas Lights Outside: