One of the prettiest things that can be seen in the Christmas season is the beautiful array of lights adorning trees, street lamps and streaming across the top of homes. Christmas lights have evolved a lot over time and they continue to evolve. These days, with an emphasis on saving energy and on being more aware of our environment, inventions like
are being used more and more. Because LED lights use up less energy, don t get hot like traditional lights and last longer, their use has changed the face of Christmas lighting and lighting in general. But when did the idea to put lights up for the holidays first arise? History of Christmas lights The idea of using lights as decoration at Christmas was something that had been taking place for some time. The first illuminated Christmas trees were lit with candles, but even before the age of Christmas, light played an important part in ancient festivities that took place around this time of the year. Sun-worshiping pagans lit candles during the festivals of the Winter solstice, which coincide with the modern Christmas period, because they hoped that providing light from candles and bonfires would encourage the sun s warmth and light to return after the cold, dark winter. With the Christianization of pagan holidays, the candle-lighting tradition was incorporated into Christmas customs although it seems that this tradition really regained major popularity after the 18th century. Around the 18th century it became a popular tradition in many Protestant upper-class German homes to honor Christmas by decorating their Christmas trees with many small miniature candles.
The candles were sometimes glued to the tree with melted wax and at other homes they were attached to the trees with pins. Because of the fire hazard that the flickering candles presented, by the early 1900s lantern-like glass balls were used to hold the illuminated candles, and after the invention of the light bulb, eventually the glass balls of light evolved into the traditional Christmas lights we know today. In spite of the modernization of Christmas lights there are still some places in the world that continue to utilize the old-fashioned candle lights. What do the Christmas lights symbolise to Christians? Regardless of their pagan origins, the Christmas lights have amassed new symbolism and meaning since becoming a Christian Christmas tradition. What do the Christmas lights symbolise in Christianity? I did have a chuckle when I heard the joke that the Christmas lights are put up to help Santa Claus find your house and easily locate the tree in order to put presents under it, but the Christmas lights also have a more meaningful religious symbolism: Symbol of the starry night on which Christ was born: Some people like to think of the lights representing the Star of Bethlehem, the sign that marked that Christ was born. Symbol of the light of Christ: In Christian tradition, candles are a symbol for Jesus and the light he brings to earth even in the darkest times.
Some believe that the light is symbolic of the eternal light of Jesus spirit that is particularly kept in mind over Christmas. Different colored candles also represented different qualities, for example a white candle represents the purity of Christ whilst a pink candle represents joy. Symbol of the light, hope and good in the world: The Christmas lights also served to remind good Christians to provide light to others. Symbol of following the enlightened path: Some suggest that the Christmas lights are a reminder to follow the way of Christ. The path of lights that wind around the tree leading to the star at the top may be symbolic of the enlighted path to salvation. Credits: Related Articles You may enjoy the other articles in the section of saywhydoi. com, especially the Christmas articles like: – – – – Related Products In 1882, in a townhouse at 136 East 36th Street in New York City, Edward Hibberd Johnson had an idea that would make him the unsung set decorator of a zillion holiday snapshots. Fronted by a luxurious mustache, this loyal lieutenant to Thomas Edison was the embodiment of his era: part engineer, part businessman, part Barnum. In 1871, Johnson hired Edison, then a 24-year-old inventor, as a consultant for the Automatic Telegraph Company. Edison ate at this desk and slept in a chair, Johnson later recalled. In six weeks he had gone through the books, written a volume of abstracts, and made two thousand experiments. and produced a solution. So impressed was Johnson that when Edison left to start a new company, he followed, quickly making himself useful turning Edison s brainstorms into cash.
In 1877, after Edison invented the phonograph, Johnson took the machine on tour, charging crowds to drum up excitement. When Edison patented the light bulb in 1880, its exact value was hard to gauge; widespread electrification was still decades away. Still, Johnson, Edison and others invested $35,000 to form the Edison Lamp Company to sell the bulbs. Before long, Johnson had a bright idea. We tend to think of Christmas-season traditions as ancient, but most of them are rather recent, born in the 19th century. A Visit From St. Nicholas was published in 1823, and A Christmas Carol in 1843. Thomas Nast s drawings of jolly Santa Claus debuted in 1862. Meanwhile, in 1841, Queen Victoria s husband, Albert, had introduced Britain to the Teutonic tannenbaum the Christmas tree and the idea spread. In the States, President Franklin Pierce put one up at the White House in 1856, and by the 1870s fresh-cut trees were being sold at Washington Square Park, and pretty ornaments at Macy s. But what really made a tree a Christmas tree were the candles, and while flickering flames were festive, they were also a fire hazard. Over at the Edison shop, Johnson saw an opportunity. Setting up a tree by the street-side window of his parlor, Johnson hand-wired 80 red, white and blue light bulbs and strung them together around it, and placed the trunk on a revolving pedestal, all powered by a generator.
Then he called a reporter. At the rear of the beautiful parlors, was a large Christmas tree presenting a most picturesque and uncanny aspect, wrote W. A. Croffut, a veteran writer for the Detroit Post and Tribune. It was brilliantly lighted with. eighty lights in all encased in these dainty glass eggs, and about equally divided between white, red and blue. One can hardly imagine anything prettier. The lights drew a crowd as passers-by stopped to peer at the glowing marvel. Johnson turned his stunt into a tradition; he also pioneered the practice of doing more each year: An 1884 New York Times article counted 120 bulbs on his dazzling tree. Johnson s lights were indeed ahead of their time electricity was not yet routinely available and they weren t cheap. A string of 16 vaguely flame-shaped bulbs sitting in brass sockets the size of shot glasses sold for a pricey $12 (about $350 in today s money) in 1900. But in 1894 President Cleveland put electric lights on the White House tree, and by 1914, a 16-foot string cost just $1. 75. By the 1930s, colored bulbs and cones were everywhere. Today an estimated 150 million light sets are sold in America each year, adding to the tangled millions stuffed into boxes each January. They light 80 million homes and consume 6 percent of the nation s electrical load each December. And though the contagious joy of these lights has been co-opted orange at Halloween and red at Valentine s Day, it all started with Johnson s miracle on 36th Street.