Oh, the weather outside is frightful, and the fire is sure to be so, and in case you have no snow, I’m gonna go, gonna go, gonna go…oh, sorry, I didn’t see you there. Yes, you caught me once again singing my own version of a popular Christmas carol. And since my friends here in Gainesville don’t get much snow, I was trying to come up with a different tune while thinking about the origin of Christmas lights. History often is full of great stories, and I’ve shared many of them right here on the Twinkle Nights blog myself.
And in case you’re new here, my name is Sparkle. I’m a friend of Tom and his crew at Twinkle Nights. They’re the best Christmas lights hanging company in Gainesville. Plus, they serve customers in other areas such as Ocala, The Villages, Jacksonville, and more with beautiful Christmas light displays. They’re more than willing to chat with you to give you a free quote on putting together an epic Christmas lights show this year!
So now, let’s talk about the origin of Christmas lights!
The electric city!
Ah, yes, you’ll forgive me if I throw in a reference to one of my favorite TV shows, The Office. I simply thought it was a great way to introduce something we all need to keep in mind: the advent of electricity.
See, without power, you can’t do anything in a modern home. This includes hanging the best Christmas light shows in Gainesville! The origin of modern Christmas lights begins with the late 19th-century invention: electric power lines.
However, the true origins of Christmas lights are thought to date back even further than that.
Welcome to the 16th century
Can you imagine hanging a lit candle on your real Christmas tree this season? That would be a major fire hazard, of course. However, it’s believed that Lutherans in Germany first began to hang candles on their Christmas trees around this time.
The first recorded Christmas tree dates back to the year 1539 when it was placed in the Cathedral of Strasbourg. From there, homeowners began following suit.
There’s even a record of Queen Victoria getting in on the action in the early 1800s. There, she hung (or rather, had their servants hang) miniature candles on trees throughout the castle. They’re recorded as having gathered in one of the drawing rooms to enjoy the festivities after dinner on Christmas.
The origins of Christmas lights in the United States
Naturally, we’re getting closer to the modern era during this journey of the origins of Christmas lights. In the United States, it’s believed that Thomas Edison had one of his associates hang electric lights on a Christmas tree. The assistant’s name was Edward Johnson, and it’s reported that he used a strand of red lights in 1882 to use electricity to illuminate a Christmas tree for the very first time!
By the turn of the century, the origins of Christmas lights had moved into the White House. A few years later, they were making their way to outdoor decorations, with electric lighting events out in California.
The elephant in the room: Rockefeller Center
Is there a more well-known Christmas tree in all of the United States? So, with its size, location, and prominence, you might be inclined to think that it was the origin of everyone lighting their trees for the holidays with electric-powered strands.
As it turns out, the town of McAdenville, North Carolina has that distinction. In fact, it took until 1956 for Rockefeller Plaza to embrace the electric light revolution — although they did light the tree in other ways in previous years.
The evolution of Christmas lights
So far, everything I’ve talked about today has involved two main types of Christmas lights: candles and incandescent bulbs. However, as you know all too well, technology marches on. And so does our journey on the origin of Christmas lights. History is a funny thing too: it’s often told through the eyes of those who it affects most. In our case, my friend Tom and his crew are big fans of LED lights.
Of course, you’re probably wondering, “Sparkle, when did LED lights become a thing?” Well, you might be surprised to learn that the first LED bulb was invented in 1962. That’s right: over sixty years ago!
Now, the technology that they used back then was much different than the LED lights of today. To get closer to modern LED standards, you need to jump ahead about 30 years.
By the way, that’s like a blink of an eye in elf years!
Nevertheless, home lighting technology began to take a different shape as everyone became more aware of the impact we have on our planet. That’s why, yes, even at the North Pole, we use energy-efficient LED light strands — just like Twinkle Nights! Today’s C9 bulbs are far better than the ones from the end of the last millennium. They’re closer in appearance to a traditional incandescent appearance while using a fraction of the power as before.
The future of holiday lights
A lot of what I talked about today was the history and origin of Christmas lights. So what’s in the store for the future? That’s hard to say exactly, of course, but I think you’ll continue to see improvements in energy efficiency. In addition, there seems to be an ever-increasing focus on varying styles.
Perhaps one of the big trends I think you’ll see more of is homeowners working with professional light-hanging companies. They can help you come up with some pretty creative ideas for homes, businesses, and communities.
From the origin of Christmas lights to your home!
Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed this journey with me today and learned something new about the origin of Christmas lights. From those in the past to the lights of the future, they’re full of a rich history which explains why they continue to be so popular today.
And speaking of a journey, it’s time for me to make my way back to the North Pole. With only a few more weeks until Christmas, I need to pitch in with the other elves to make sure they get everything done before The Big Day gets here. So with that, I’ll leave you, my friends. See you next time!
Here are some other resources to help light up your holiday season!