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The Story Behind the First Christmas Lights

Updated on December 5, 2011
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When the word Christmas is mentioned in front of you, your brain instantly begins to imagine the Christmas tree with the delightful colored lights decorating it along with other ornaments, but did you ever think about or imagine how Christmas would be without those blinking colors, and without anything to light up the streets at night or very early in the morning. Actually there was a time when all of the above was true, because the beginning of the usage of Christmas lights is related to the early start of the modern era, not long after houses was supplied with electricity, because before that candles were the only light source available. It all started back in 1879 when Thomas Edison as we all know invented the first working light bulb, but it didn’t quiet start there, it really started few years later in 1882 when a partner of Thomas Edison first thought and applied the usage of Light bulbs with different colors to decorate his Christmas tree in front of his New York home, this man was Edward Johnson, the vice-president of Edison’s electric company.

The story continues when a reporter from "The Detroit Post and Tribune” was visiting New York beyond the Fifth Avenue and passed in front of the house of Edward Johnson, he was astonished and amazed at what he saw and he reported the following: "When I was visiting from Detroit , I was walking by the Fifth Avenue in New York and I stopped in front of one of the houses because I came across a wonderful scene, right at the rear of the parlors, a huge Christmas tree was located, it was decorated with the most beautiful and original fashion, it was beautifully presented and outlined with small colored light bulbs by the size of a walnut with various and beautiful colors. The colors were white, red and blue and they were almost equally distributed all over the tree, and the thing that made this kind of ornament revolutionary that those small bulbs were blinking six times per minute, which leaded to a continues flickering and sparkling of those three colors all night long, that house was Edward Johnson’s House."


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The story doesn’t stop there, it continues by the publishing of a promotional pamphlet by Edison which might be the very first written book to state and mention the recreational and commercial usage of the electric powered bulbs to decorate and lighten the Christmas trees. It stated “There are more into the decoration of Christmas trees other than small lamps hidden among the leaves or flowers, or simple ornaments and candles often used. “

And starting from that moment, the usage rate of the colorful Christmas lights exploded through the roof, it became a necessity at every home, when setting and decorating the Christmas tree along with the traditional decorations, ornaments and candles, and as mentioned at the beginning of the story, it became so related and synonymous with the Christmas tree, so related that it is unthinkable to imagine any Christmas tree or Christmas decorations without the flickering of Mr. Edison’s Colored lights. Thank you Mr. Edison, you literally lightened up our Christmas and made it brighter.

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    • moiragallaga profile image
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      Moira Garcia Gallaga 5 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Starstream, that would be something I would like to see - a Christmas tree with burning candles. I agree with you that it would be quite a sight to see. I think it's great your great grandparents had a chance to share with you what that was like. Thank you for your comment.

    • starstream profile image

      Dreamer at heart 5 years ago from Northern California

      The early Christmas tree decorations which included burning candles must have been a sight to see. My great grandparents told me about their decorations. Thanks.

    • moiragallaga profile image
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      Moira Garcia Gallaga 5 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      You're welcome Derdriu, and thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 5 years ago

      I just linked it. Thanks:))

    • profile image

      Derdriu 5 years ago

      Moira Gallaga: What an endearing revelation of the first Christmas lights! Your photographs are colorfully welcoming.

      Thank you for sharing, etc.,

      Derdriu

    • moiragallaga profile image
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      Moira Garcia Gallaga 5 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Anglnwu, sure you can link your article with this one and thank you.

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 5 years ago

      I just wrote a Christmas hub too. Thanks for telling how Christmas lights came into being. I will link your hub to mine if you don't mind. Love all your photos--beautiful.