Interior of the Christmas Tree, Puerta del Sol, Madrid.

More Holiday Lights

Beautiful holiday light displays have become a popular part of Christmas and New Year celebrations all over the world. Today’s holiday lights evolved from electric Christmas lights that were invented in America during the late 1800s. According to Heidi Davis in “A Brief History of Christmas Lights,” the first electric Christmas lights were made for Edward H. Johnson, the vice president of Thomas Edison’s Electric Light Company. Johnson “decorated his tree with 80 specially made red, white, and blue bulbs that he displayed in the window of his Fifth Avenue home.”

Using early electric Christmas lights was not simply a matter of plugging a light cord into a wall socket. It required both a generator and someone to operate the generator. This was expensive. Davis notes that the “cost of renting a generator and paying a ‘wireman’ to light up your tree came with a lofty price tag: $300, which is the equivalent of $2000 today. She further adds that “as a result, the electrically lit tree remained a sight see[n] primarily at high society holiday parties.”

Noma lights exhibit at Patee House in St. Joseph
Noma lights exhibit at Patee House in St. Joseph
Photo Credit: By Americasroof (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
It was not until the 1920s that electric Christmas lights became widely available to the general public. By this time, safer Christmas lights were invented by Albert Sadacca who eventually founded NOMA Electric Company (National Outfit Manufacturer’s Association) in 1925. NOMA “became the largest Christmas light manufacturer in the world.” It dominated the Christmas tree light market until the late 1960s when aluminum Christmas trees and rotating color wheels weakened the demand for traditional string lights. NOMA filed for bankruptcy in 1966.

During the 1920s, electric Christmas lights also became more than Christmas tree decorations. People began using them for elaborate outdoor light shows. The first public outdoor electric Christmas light display was Christmas Tree Lane, which was organized by Frederick Nash in Altadena, California. This display has been continuously lit every year except during World War II.

Over the years, additional modifications and enhancements were made to existing Christmas light technology. In the 1970s, smaller minilights were invented. The minibulbs on minilights “offered high-impact, low-cost lighting and used a lower wattage per strand.” By 1995, computer-controlled lighting was also developed for increasingly large and complex light displays. In recent years, energy-efficient LED lights have “made a huge impact” on the holiday lighting we see today.

Source: “A Brief History of Christmas Lights” by Heidi Davis – Popular Mechanics

 

Interior Árbol de Navidad — 2013 — Puerta del Sol, Madrid, España.jpg

By J.Ligero & I.Barrios (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Interior of the Christmas Tree, Puerta del Sol, Madrid.
Interior of the Christmas Tree, Puerta del Sol, Madrid.
11 December 2013, 21:09:29

 

Weihnachtsbeleuchtung Rotenturmstraße.jpg

By Anna reg (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0 at], via Wikimedia Commons

Christmas lights decorating the Rotenturmstraße in Vienna in december 2013.
Christmas lights decorating the Rotenturmstraße in Vienna in December 2013.
16 December 2013

 

Old opera fountain holiday lights) (11931727025).jpg

By Roberto Strauss from Frankfurt am Main, Deutschland (old opera fountain holiday lights)) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Tbilisi, the capital and the largest city of Georgia
Tbilisi, the capital and the largest city of Georgia
22 December 2013, 18:24
Source: old opera fountain holiday lights

 

Seville city at Christmas night (6570969587).jpg

By curimedia [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Seville city at Christmas night
Seville city at Christmas night
25 December 2011, 21:28
Source: Seville city at Christmas night

 

Weihnachtsstern-Geschäft.jpg

By Blackerking (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 A Moravian star sale in Erfurt
A Moravian star sale in Erfurt
18 December 2010

 

Deck the Lights! (3135347191).jpg

By DearEdward from New York, NY, USA (Deck the Lights!) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

photo of a house decorated with many Christmas lights
Christmas IS the festival of lights…or maybe thats Hanukah? Christmas or Hanukah, tis the season! =)
25 December 2008, 06:50
Source: Deck the Lights!

 

Festival of Lights, New Plymouth, New Zealand.jpg

By JiaEnzed (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, New Zealand, illuminated during the annual Festival of Lights.
Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, New Zealand, illuminated during the annual Festival of Lights.
23 December 2013, 21:38:55

 

Zooming all the Wayyyy! (11251533346).jpg

By Chris Phutully from Australia (Zooming all the Wayyyy!) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Picture taken at City Square (currently named Christmas Square), in Melbourne, AUS. To get this effect, I had the camera on a tripod, exposed the tree for a few seconds before zooming in to get the light trails. Try it some time, you'll get some interesting results messing around with zooming.
Picture taken at City Square (currently named Christmas Square), in Melbourne, AUS. To get this effect, I had the camera on a tripod, exposed the tree for a few seconds before zooming in to get the light trails. Try it some time, you’ll get some interesting results messing around with zooming.
7 December 2013, 22:02
Source: Zooming all the Wayyyy!

 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! 🙂 If you would like to see more holiday lights, you can see my previous “Holiday Light Displays” post from last year.

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4 thoughts on “More Holiday Lights

    1. Thank you for your kind comments and for liking this post. I am glad that you enjoyed seeing these wonderful holiday lights. I have enjoyed sharing a few stories with you and looking at your fantastic photos this year. I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year too! 🙂

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