“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
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.
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.
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.