News

History of Christmas lights: From candles to LEDs

History of Christmas lights: From candles to LEDs

SHINE BRIGHT: Christmas decorations used to be a lot more dangerous. Photo: clipart.com

Christmas decorations were simpler before electricity. And more dangerous.

For centuries, people used candles to light their homes in the dark days of winter. When they started putting up Christmas trees, they lit those with candles, too. Which led to a lot of fires.

That began to change once Thomas Edison created the first practical light bulb. Edison also was apparently the first to put electric lights outdoors at Christmas. The Library of Congress says he strung some together and hung them outside his Menlo Park, N.J., laboratory during the Christmas season of 1880.

Two years later, Edison’s friend and partner Edward Johnson wired 80 red, white and blue light bulbs together and wound them around his Christmas tree. For added drama, he made the tree revolve.

In 1895, President Grover Cleveland ordered mutli-colored electric light bulbs for the White House family tree.

But electric Christmas lights were expensive and remained a rarity until 1903, when General Electric began to offer pre-assembled Christmas light kits. Their popularity grew after a novelty lighting company owned by Albert Sadacca and his brothers began selling strings of lights to the public. Their company cornered the Christmas light market until the 1960s.

Today China is the primary producer of Christmas lights, particularly the energy-saving LED variety, because of its plentiful cheap labor and large supplies of the necessary raw materials.

Recent Headlines

in Entertainment

Easy April Fools’ Day pranks

aprilfools

Looking for a quick and easy way to pull a fast one? Check out these perfect pranks for kids, coworkers, and friends.

in Music

Gene Simmons gets into movie business

genesimmons

The KISS rocker and WWE Studios will join together to try to scare the bejeezus out of you.

in Music

Willie Nelson announces lineup for July 4 picnic

willienelson

The legendary musician is bringing his picnic back to Austin, Texas.

in Entertainment

Robin Williams’ image cannot be used for 25 years

Actor and comedian Robin Williams poses during a press tour promoting his new movie "License To Wed" in Santa Monica, Calif., Friday, June 15, 2007.

The "Mrs. Doubtfire" star will not appear in any form of publicity until 2039.

in Music

Music festivals ban ‘selfie sticks’

selfie

You'll just have to have long arms if you're taking a selfie at Coachella or Lollapalooza.