Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas Traditions Trivia Series: Christmas Lights

“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”  John 8:12

1940's Christmas Nativity

I’m so glad that you joined me for the continuation of my Christmas traditions series.  Today, my post will explore the tradition of Christmas lights.  As I begin, I find myself wondering if perhaps the stable where Baby Jesus was born was softly illuminated by lamplight.

We couldn’t know about then, but before electricity, once upon a time, as people assembled together to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, churches were beautifully illuminated with candlelight and lamps.  I can just imagine the glowing scene on a crisp, wintery night.

Also, the early Christmas trees were sometimes lit by candlelight.  Melted wax secured the candles to the evergreen branches until candleholders became fashionable in the late 19th century. 

candles gleaming

Germany is due the credit for beginning the tradition of lighting Christmas trees in this way.  Queen Victoria helped this idea grow in England and the United States as well, largely as a results of a woodcut picture of her candlelit Christmas tree.

christmas tree queen victoria 

In the 1880’s, Sir Joseph Swan facilitated actors to be dressed in small lights as part of their costumes in an operetta, which inspired the term “fairy lights.”  And soon to follow, Thomas Edison’s work with electrical lighting became directly responsible for the invention of electric Christmas lights.

Edward Johnson, the vice president of the Edison Electric Light Company, had eighty red, white, and blue miniature light bulbs made for his Christmas tree in 1882, which is believed to be the very first electric lights to adorn a Christmas tree.


The first electrically lit Christmas tree at the White House was switched on by President Grover Cleveland during his second term in 1895. 


The cost of lighting a Christmas tree in the early 1900’s would be about $300!  It would be another 30 years still until Christmas lights were affordable enough to be sold to the general public.

14 -GE_Brochure 

Oh, the beauty of Christmas!  May the beautiful light of Jesus shine brightly in your heart, filling you with joy that is evermore infectious! 



Billie Jo said...

I cant tell you enough how much I love visiting here with you, my friend! : )

One of my favorite parts of Christmas is going around the house at dusk turning on all the lights...in fact...on snowy, cloudy days we keep them on all day!

Stephanie said...

$300.00!! Wow :) This was so interesting, dear friend, and I'm so glad you shared with us.

By the way, that first picture is stunning with the falling snow - I LOVE it!!

Always a pleasure to drop in :) Much love!

Amy Jo said...


I wanted to thank you for nominating me for the Liebster Award. That was very kind of you. Since I had recieved it before, I didn't repost it. But Thank you just the same. I loved learning about the Christmas lights. Can you imagine a $300.00 bill to light a tree!

Amy Jo

Anonymous said...

Wow! Although candles on the tree are very pretty, I am glad we have lights...what an invention!

Such fun...I enjoyed the post.

Hope to see you.

Merry Christmas Season!

Brenda @ Its A Beautiful Life said...

Dear Mrs. Smith,

Lovely to visit again... and to find your wee notes in my comments box.

Enjoyed your 11 interesting facts too.

Wishin' you glimpses of heaven in unexpected places.


Anonymous said...

Dear Mrs Smith,
that is so interesting! $300 - wow! I can see why candles were very popular but dangerous!


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