Who invented Christmas Lights?
We all love putting up our Christmas Tree’s and putting on the sparkly Christmas Lights. But who invented Christmas Lights and, why are we all doing it?
The simple answer is Thomas Edison & Edward Johnson (1880 &1882) and Albert Sadacca (1917).
Let’s take a journey back in time. As we all should know already, Thomas Edison was the inventor of the first successful practical lightbulb. He also created the very first strand of electric lights. The electric lights were strung around the outside of his Menlo Park Laboratory, during the Christmas season of 1880.
Passengers on the railroad traveling past the laboratory got their first glimpse of an electrical light display. But it wasn’t till 40 years later, that electric Christmas light has become the tradition we all know and love.
Candles as Christmas Lights?
Before electric Christmas lights, families would use candles to light up their Christmas Trees. That doesn’t sound safe, and you’re right – this led to many home fires. Edward Johnson put the very first string of Christmas tree lights together in 1882. Johnson, hand-wired 80 red, white, and blue light bulbs and wound them around his Christmas tree. The tree was not only illuminated, but it also revolved.
The world though was not ready for electrical illumination. There was a lot of mistrust of electricity. In 1895, President Cleveland requested that the White House family Christmas tree be illuminated. Many credit President Cleveland with spurring the acceptance of indoor electric Christmas lights. It wasn’t till 1923, that President Coolidge began the USA tradition, by lighting the National Christmas Tree with 3000 Electric lights on the Ellipse located south of the White House.
Christmas Light Kits
General Electric, in 1903 started offering pre-assembled kits of Christmas lights. Those that adapted to electricity and were wealthy could afford them. They needed to employ the services of a wireman, our modern-day electrician. To put into perspective, in today’s dollars, it would have cost around $2000 to illuminate your Christmas tree.
Although Edison and Johnson invented the first Electric Lights, it was Albert Sadacca who saw a future in selling electric Christmas lights. The Sadacca family owned a novelty lighting company, and in 1917, Albert, a teenager at the time, suggested they offer brightly coloured strands of Christmas lights to the public.
Today we have so many options for Christmas lighting – from lighting our Christmas Trees indoors. To lighting our whole house and garden. From Electric Lighting to Solar Lighting. Our creative ideas for lighting are endless.
- Capitol Grounds Christmas Trees (Architect of the Capitol) – Information about the history of the U.S. Capitol Grounds Christmas trees.
- Christmas Trees and More External (University of Illinois Extension) – Includes Christmas tree facts, tree types, educational lesson topics and much more.
- How Stuff Works: How Christmas lights work External – Includes introduction to how Christmas lights work, as well as a short description on how the blinking lights work.
- White House Christmas Tree External (National Christmas Tree Association) – Provides information about the White House Christmas trees and Christmas trees in general.
- A few facts about the origin of electric Christmas lights External (National Electrical Contractors Association NECA) – History of electric Christmas lighting and other historical facts related to Christmas lighting.
- History of the National Christmas Tree and History of National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremonies (National Park Service) – A chronology and history of the National Christmas Tree from 1923 – present. Also included is the Christmas Pageant of Peace History.
- Old Christmas Tree Lights External – Includes a history of American Christmas lighting from its inception through the first half of the twentieth century.
- Thomas Edison papers External (State University of New Jersey, Rutgers) – Search Edison’s papers. Also, includes biographical information about Edison, as well as bibliographies, chronologies, patents, and inventions.
- Holiday Lights Shine Bright External (NASA) – Satellite views show holiday lights from space.
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