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

10 hours ago in Local

UIS Breaks Ground on Student Union

5-4-16 UIS Groundbreaking

Ground has been broken on what is being referred to as the "Living Room" for the students of the University of Illinois Springfield.

10 hours ago in Local

Aeropostale to Close Springfield, Forsyth Stores

aeropostale

Aeropostale files for Chapter 11.

11 hours ago in Local

Social Service Groups Sue Governor for $100M Past Due

Illinois Republican gubernatorial candidate businessman Bruce Rauner participates in a Republican gubernatorial candidate debate Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, in Springfield, Ill. The four Republican gubernatorial candidates said that they’ll be willing to work with unions if elected but differed on how to approach the relationship during a downstate debate that largely focused on pension reform, taxes and just briefly on personal issues that have dogged some of the candidates.

Five dozen social service agencies working without pay for nearly a year because of the Illinois state budget stalemate are suing Gov. Bruce Rauner.

11 hours ago in Local

Trial Set for 2 of 6 Men Accused of Dismembering Woman’s Body

Champaign Police Murder Arrests WAND

Two of the six men charged with dismembering a missing Champaign woman will be held for trial after a judge heard testimony from a detective.

12 hours ago in Local

Death Knell for Graduated Income Tax

tax

Sponsors blame Rauner