History of Christmas Lights

Updated: Nov 26, 2021

As a company operating in 2021, Las Vegas Christmas Light Installation provides top-of-the-line custom-fitted holiday lighting solutions that keep us a cut above the rest. We make it so your family has one less thing to have to worry about during the busy holiday season, leaving more time for celebration... and shopping of course.

However, there are tons of fathers all over the country that will be digging the ladder out of the garage, bundling up, throwing on their gloves, and hanging their lights the good old fashioned way. Shout out to the dads that hang the lights and dress up as Santa, all to see the smiles on their families' faces.

Sometimes while doing hands-on tasks like mowing a lawn, or hanging Christmas lights we tend to forget that if we were living in past decades, the task at hand would look a bit different, and would more than likely be harder. And forget about calling a contractor! Could you imagine how EXCLUSIVE a Christmas light hanging service would be back then? So let's take a look at Christmas Past and where this tradition got started.

The idea of illuminating Christmas really started with the tree. History tells us that the first to light the Christmas tree were in Germany as far back as the 16th century. It doesn't take a history buff to know that these days were long before electricity had come into play; yes that's right, they used CANDLES! I imagine this to be quite the sight, absolutely gorgeous, and absolutely petrifying.

According to someone that grew up in families that kept this practice alive longer than most, the tradition was for the elder of the family to light the candles of the tree while the family gathered to watch. After a while of marveling at the beauty the family would blow out the candles, as if it were a huge birthday cake for Jesus. I have to admit, that is pretty cool. Needless to say this tradition must have started many fires, keeping homes a little toastier than expected.

It wasn't until the 1920 that the strings if lights that we use today took a more familiar form, but there is plenty of journey in between to explain how we got there.

Let's fast forward to the 19th century, Christmas spirit is on the rise. We have some of the classics we still recognize today come about. This century saw the published works like "A Visit From St. Nicholas" and "A Christmas Carol." The Christmas tree even got some royal attention being the star of the show at Buckingham Palace in the winter of 1841. As we know anything Her Royal Highness likes, the people soon follow. In 1856, a Christmas tree was in the White House, and by the 1870s the Christmas tree made it into the homes of regular Joes and Janes like us.

It all started with an idea, of course. Enter Edward Johnson and Thomas Edison. We have this duo to thank for making the string of lights we know and love today a hit. Johnson was a New York businessman, and we all know Edison as a great American invertor. In the winter of 1882 Edison's innovations and Johnson's imagination came together to light the first Christmas tree powered by electricity. Edison was no doubt brilliant, but Johnson really knew how to put on a show. He hand wired the bulbs himself, called a reporter and made a spectacle of a Tannenbaum glowing in red, white, and blue! What a sight that must have been, every man, woman, and child in town heard about it if they didn't catch a glimpse themselves.

Now, this great event took place only two years after Edison patented the light-bulb, and it's not like electricity was running in every home across the country. This was pretty much the newest technology on the market, and as it usually goes too expensive for the average American family's budget. So, naturally, the electric lights made it to the White House Christmas tree in 1894. This is what Edison's lights looked like, assembly not included:

Circa 1920 General Electric got involved in the Christmas Light business, simplifying the design and ease-of-use of the product and found a way to bring down the cost of production dramatically dropping the retail price. In ten years the strings of lights were everywhere in many colors, and dads everywhere added untangling the Christmas lights to the holiday to-do list.

Now, here's where the history of Christmas lights takes a funky turn! Who remembers Bubble Lites, made famous by NOMA Electric Corporation? In case you forgot this part of Christmas Past, Las Vegas Christmas Light Installation is here to remind you. Like big hair from the 80s, or grandma's plastic covered couch Christmas lights also went through an interesting fashion phase.

The bubble light was introduced to the market in 1946, after World War II. Instead of the classic thin tube with a filament, we have a tube of colored liquid that bubbles like a lava lamp when heated by the actual bulb underneath. Honestly, I'm absolutely tickled by this product! I really can't imagine a tree adorned with little technicolor lava lamps. It sounds like something from an episode of That '70s Show. I don't know if I'd ever be tempted to decorate with these gems and since they pretty much phased out in the '60s, I feel they are worth checking out. Gene Teslovic, a member of the Golden Glow of Christmas Past goes through the extensive history of the cheeky little Bubble Lite.

From that point on, not much has changed, through the decades we've had small changes to maybe the shape and size of bulbs, but nothing too drastic. The way we light a tree has pretty much stayed the same for the last six decades, and rightfully so. Decorating the Christmas tree with the family is a timeless tradition. As we've learned from history it was once a dangerous feat. Now we can have the same joy during the holiday season safely, and conveniently.

This is a tradition that our family holds dear. During the holidays we are so busy hanging custom Christmas Lights around Las Vegas the lights on our home go up last if they make it up there at all, but we make time for the tree. It's a family thing, and that's what should never change.

So this year, let Las Vegas Christmas Light Installation be bothered with getting up on the roof to impress the neighbors, you have a Christmas tree to worry about.


Here's How Christmas Lights Came to be

by Melissa Chan for

Magical Bubbling Christmas Lights

by Gene Teslovic for Golden Glow of Christmas Past

Untangling the History of Christmas Lights

by Jamie Malanowski for Smithsonian Magazine

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