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 Music

Ailing Joey Kramer’s son joins Aerosmith on tour

kramer

Kramer's son Jesse who took over his dad's drum seat when the band hit the stage.

in Entertainment

Benedict Cumberbatch to voice tiger in ‘Jungle Book’

benedict

The "Sherlock" star has signed on for Warner Bros.' adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's beloved adventure tale.

in Entertainment

At 91, Stan Lee continues to expand his ‘Universe’

stanlee

The comic book legend may be in his ninth decade, but it hasn't stopped him from interesting a new generation of children in super heroes.

in Music

Bob Seger to release first album in 8 years

bobseger

The "Old Time Rock & Roll" hitmaker's new album, "Ride Out," will hit stores on Oct. 14.

in Music

The Scorpions ‘not dead yet,’ plan 20th album

scorpions

Four years after launching a farewell tour, the German group is planning to mark the band's 50th anniversary.