Christmas Lights

The glow of the holidays

The world glows with a colorful light at one time of the year - Christmas. Everywhere you look, Christmas lights sparkle and brighten every door step, window, and Christmas tree. The red, green, and white glow of Christmas lights not only light up the cold winter landscape, they ignite the Christmas spirit within us all.

Since the 17th Century, people have lit their Christmas trees to sit by its comforting glow. The families of Christmas past attached Christmas candles to the ends of the tree's branches using wax or pins. Given the fire risk involved with using lit candles, most families decorated their trees on Christmas eve and quickly tore them down again just after Christmas day.

In 1879, Thomas Edison invented the first practical light bulb; but it wasn't until 1882 when Edward Johnson, an associate of Edison 's, created the first string of Christmas lights by hand wiring 80 red, white, and blue bulbs together in a string. The creation of the first string of electric Christmas lights didn't replace the candles on Christmas trees very quickly however - very few people saw that first string of lights. Christmas lights wouldn't truly see the light of day until 1895, when President Grover Cleveland first put lights on the White House Christmas tree.

The prohibitive cost and equipment required to power those early strings of lights limited their use to larger department stores and the White House until 1903. In 1903, the first strings of Christmas lights were sold to the masses. By 1905, Christmas light sets with small screw-in bulbs and a socket plug or battery packs, were becoming a Christmas mainstay. These early lights evolved into the Christmas lights that you know and love today.

Strings of Christmas lights continue to evolve. Filament light bulbs are losing ground to energy-saving light-emitting-diode (LED) Christmas lights - LED Christmas lights use less than 10% of the electricity consumed by filament bulbs and can save you close to 95% on your electricity bill. LED lights also stay cooler than traditional lights making them safer to hang next to your Christmas tree ornaments.

It's hard to imagine Christmas without bright, twinkling lights. Every December parents bundle their little ones into the car just to drive around at night to look at the glow and twinkle of color sparkling through the trees and reflecting off the snow. City parks are often filled with dazzling displays of Christmas lights in the trees and full-sized glowing reindeer and snowmen. Although red, white, and green remain traditional favorites, Christmas lights are available in every shade of the rainbow. Blue lights are becoming quite popular for the soft, icy blue glow they cast.

Both indoor Christmas lights and outdoor Christmas lights offer a soothing, steady glow or the blink and twinkle resembling stars or dancing candlelight. If you want your lights to dance, simply replace a steady bulb in your string with the blinking bulb, included with your lights. If you want a steady, mystical glow cast over your yard and house, try LED lights. Colored LED lights glow with an almost neon-like quality, while the simple white LED lights cast an icy, ethereal glow wherever they hang. No matter your preference, Christmas lights are a "must have" for your holiday decorating - so string up those lights and shine on!

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