Christmas Lights 2021 – What Is The Story Behind?

Did you know? (quick facts about Christmas lights)

#. That Thomas Edison in 1880 was the first person to use electric Christmas lightning.

#. That most people could not afford Christmas lights, as it required the services of a trained electrician, which most people did not have money for. Lights on a Christmas tree was a symbol of status among wealthy people.

#. By the time the electric lights became affordable, people started using these lights more than real candles, as it was safer.

#. It was not safe to use outdoor lights until the 1920’s.

#. That the world’s record for “most lights on a residential property” belongs to a family in New York. The family strung 601.736 lights around their property in New York. They took over the first place in Guinness World Record for having the most lights on a residential property. Furthermore, they have over 200 songs playing with the light installations.

Christmas lights today

Christmas lights are used for decorations around the world for the Christmas holidays. In many countries and homes, the Christmas lights as well as other Christmas decorations are traditionally erected around the first day of Advent. Many people choose to keep the lights up until Easter, and some keeps the lights all year around. Christmas lights are meant to light up the dark days of December. In many countries December is filled with the cold, rain and snow, where Christmas lights are essential to keep a good mood. Also, Christmas lights brings joy and Christmas spirit to many people across the world. Many people travel around the world too see the many Christmas light displays.

Today it is normal do decorate the Christmas tree with Christmas lights, both inside and outside. It is different from country to country how much people decorate for Christmas. In the USA the Christmas decorations on houses are taken to another level. People travel from miles away to see all the Christmas lights and decorations the Americans put up. Christmas light displays on houses often bring out people’s competitive spirit, as neighbors compete on having the most elaborate display on the street.

History of Christmas lights

For the past century, Christmas lights have been one of the most popular Christmas decorations among people worldwide. When Christmas lights first came out, they were very expensive. It was back then a symbol of status among wealthy people. Many people who could not afford them rented the lights instead, which were also quite expensive. The history behind the Christmas lights will be explained further in the section below.

Christmas candles

Before the electric Christmas lights were invented people used real burning candles during the Christmas season. It was tradition to light the tree with small candles, and it goes all the way back to the 17th century. The candles original came from Germany before spreading to the Eastern Europe. There were more risks by using real candles rather than electric candles, as they easily could set fire to something. The candles were attached to the tree branches with either pins or melted wax, for the candles not to move.

During Christmas time in Europe, Christians used to display a burning candle in the window in their house, so people from the outside could see it. The candles were meant to indicate to other Christians walking by, that it was a Christian house. When the candle was burning in the window, it meant that other Christians were welcome to come worship Christmas with the residents.

The history of Thomas Edison and Edward Johnson

Christmas lights goes along way back to 1880, where Thomas Edison invented the incandescent light bulb the previous year. It all started when Edison hung electric lights outside his laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey, for everyone to see. It was possible to see the lights from far away, and many pedestrians walked by amazed each night in December. Edison’s Christmas lights were the first ‘official’ Christmas lights on display, that were not on the Christmas tree.

In 1882, a few years after Edison invented the first light bulb, a man named Edward H. Johnson created the first ever Christmas lights in his own home in New York City. He was an inventor under Thomas Edison. He was the first person to create strings of Christmas lights. He hung the lights on his Christmas tree, and the strings was made of 80 red, white and blue globes, which all blinked and twinkled on the tree. This was the beginning of the Christmas lights. It was first in 1890 the strings were mass-produced, and here several department stores started to display the lights in their stores. At that time the Christmas lights were quite expensive, so it was not nearly everybody who could afford them. Later at the turn of the 20th century, government buildings and more retail stores started to display Christmas lights during the holidays.

Expensive with Christmas lights

As I mentioned above, it was very expensive to have Christmas lights outside or on the trees for many people. Many people at that time only had the option to light real candles on their trees or in the windows. Here the trees were only displayed for a few days up until Christmas, and the candles were only lit for a short time as they quickly burned out. Most people couldn’t afford to buy candles that could last most of December.

Also, it was much more dangerous to use real candles as there were a higher risk of a fire. For this reason, people were prepared with buckets of water and sand in case of the tree would catch fire. People wanted to show that they also had lights on their tree. For this reason, the lit tree was often displayed in front of the window for people to see.

Later in 1895 the White House lit their first Christmas lights. The lights were sponsored by President Grover Cleveland. He brought national attention to these lights and made lit Christmas trees a trend for Christmas. Although as I mentioned earlier, the lights were very expensive. For this reason, it was mainly wealthy people who could afford the Christmas lights. At that time the costs were around 300 dollars per season. Today it would be more than 2.500 dollars. Also, in addition to the cost of the lights, people also had to think about the cost of a wireman. If the house was not electrically powered, a generator was needed. It was for those reasons way too expensive for most people to get electric Christmas lights.

NOMA – the beginning of cheaper Christmas lights

The company NOMA was started by the Sadacca brothers Albert, Henri and Leon. The company was founded in 1925 and became one company from the union of 15 Christmas companies. A big incident in New York City where a candle on a Christmas tree caused a big fire, was the start to something big. Albert, one of the Sadacca brothers were inspired to create a safer and cheaper way to show Christmas lights. NOMA hence became the biggest Christmas lights distributor but stopped producing Christmas lights in 1968 because they were facing too many competitors.

Although it was sad that they needed to close, people around the world can today thank NOMA and their competitors, as more and more people in the 1940’s and 1950’s began to buy more Christmas lights as they became cheaper and cheaper with the many competitors. More people hence started decorating their houses and trees, and even more department stores followed the trend. Today all the Christmas lights outdoors have become a symbol of the Christmas season.

Varieties of Christmas lights

Today there are a lot of different Christmas lights in different shapes and sizes. Although one of the most popular lights are the “mini string lights”. The reason why they are so popular are because of their versatility. They are both available in either incandescent or LED technologies, as well as they come in different shapes and color options. You can use these Christmas lights to almost any Christmas designs, as they are easy to handle. The advantage of these lights is, that if one of the bulbs fails, that the rest of the bulbs on the string will stay lit.

If you are looking for outdoor Christmas lights, you must go with a bigger string. With a bigger size you will be able to see the lights clearer and these string lights are available in several colors and shapes. Also, they are available in both LED and incandescent options. Often you can also customize your own string bulb.

Christmas light for trees

If you are looking for Christmas lights to put around your trees and bushes outside you might want to use tree wrap lights or net lights. Tree wrap lights are long and narrow and net lights are a bit shorter but wider. Net lights are a bit better suited for bushes and shrubbery.

Indoor Christmas lights

To bring Christmas joy and Christmas spirit inside, many people uses Christmas lights inside as Christmas decorations. Some uses real Christmas trees and others uses artificial Christmas trees. If you are just a big fan of lights, it is also possible to find pre-lit Christmas trees with LED options, which includes color changing, warm white lights etc. Also do not forget that you furthermore can get garlands and wreaths with pre-lit options, so you can light up either your living room, lobby, office etc. It is possible to get the artificial trees in several colors. For example, you can buy a green tree covered in white “snow”. There are hence lots of different varieties of Christmas trees that looks like realistic pine fir.

When it comes to wreaths, you often see them on residential or/and commercial buildings. You can find them in many different sizes, shapes, styles and colors.

Outdoor Christmas lights

When it comes to outdoor Christmas lights many people around the world put up lights. But outdoor lights did not become popular for the average family before the 1930’s as I mentioned earlier, it was quite expensive.

After the 1930’s several homes, department stores, government buildings started to have outdoor Christmas lights for the holidays. It was also at that time municipalities put out a Christmas tree with twinkling lights for the people to see. Today, the places you find the lights are as numerous as the types of lights available.

Today it is very common to see that your neighbor has turned their yard into a winter wonderland with many Christmas lights and other Christmas decorations.

Where can I buy Christmas lights?

You can buy Christmas lights almost everywhere during Christmas time. You can find them in supermarkets, department stores, light shops, 1-dollar shops etc. It is one of the most popular items to buy during the holidays as Christmas lights can be used everywhere from your tree, to your house, inside for decorations etc. It is furthermore not only for Christmas that people buy lights, hence it is possible to find Christmas looking lights all year around at it is something very decorative.

Save energy this Christmas

Today people spend so much money and a lot of electricity every holiday on Christmas lights. If you like all the Christmas lights but at the same time wants to think about the planet, there are solutions that can help you save energy efficiently and go greener. Luckily for you there are great alternatives to save energy and to get traditional Christmas lights that shines and twinkles even in cloudy and bad weather. You can use both solar and LED battery-powered lights. They will both work perfectly fine for Christmas displays. The advantage with this, is that they do not use electricity which you therefore do not need an extension for the cords or planning your display around electrical outlets. As a plus, you will not need to run up your electricity bill.

Christmas light shows

If you are that person who unsuccessfully drives around looking for Christmas lights, light shows and other holiday displays every year, we will in the sections below help you with a guide to the best light shows around the world. Although many houses, communities, parks etc. have Christmas lights, you do not want to miss a real Christmas light show. Read below for the best places!

5 of the best places to see Christmas lights in the USA

Whether you live in a warm place like LA, Arizona or in a place with all four seasons like New York and Boston, it would just not be Christmas without any Christmas lights. Bulbs blinking in many colors like green, red, yellow and white is a part of the American identity as well as a symbol of prosperity and the celebration of the birth of Jesus.

It is an essential part of the American Christmas celebration, that people put lights on their houses. It is as well popular for people around the world to travel to different parts of the USA to see all the different Christmas lights spectacles.

Some people try to keep their houses classy for Christmas, while others are pushing their limits of creativity. It is hence fun to see how people in different neighborhoods are decorating.

Although it is fun to see how your neighbors decorates for the holidays, it is also a must to see how different cities decorate. Below we will let you know the most popular places for visitors around the world goes to see the most spectacular Christmas lights.

#1. Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Nevada)

It may seem weird for some people to leave the Las Vegas Strip to look at bright Christmas lights. But some of the most beautiful lights you will find, is in the Nevada desert down at the racetrack.

You can see glittering lights at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway with a 2.5-mile circuit that gives visitors the opportunity to see more than 500 animated displays.

Every year there are more than 250.000 visitors from around the world who make their way through the desert. Normally you can see the lights up until January 6th. The tickets are normally between 20$ and 30$.

#2. Smithsonian’s National ZOO (Washington D.C)

Another great place to go see the Christmas lights are at the Smithsonian’s National ZOO in Washington D.C. The nation’s capital turns the Zoolights into a 500,000-LED-light winter wonderland. It is a perfect place for families to enjoy Christmas time. You can take a spin on the solar powered Speedwell Conservation Carousel, which features custom-carved figures of 58 species of animals.

Although the real animals are not involved in the Christmas lights spectacles. Instead you can watch all their Christmas decoration and drink a hot cup of chocolate to warm up.

Different from Las Vegas, admission is here free. You can see the Christmas displays until January 1st.

#3. Zilker Park (Austin, Texas)

Another great place to go see the Christmas lights in the USA, is at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas.  Every year approximately 1.500 volunteers spend around 15.000 hours to put together Austin’s Trail of lights. Zilker Park is one of the most popular locations in Austin. The light show has been showed there for more than 50 years.

The 2.1-mile walking circuit features more than 50 light displays and more than 800 lighted trees. In the middle of the park you will see the tallest man-made free-standing ‘Zilker’ Christmas tree in the world. It is 155 feet tall.

During your visit at the park you will find food trucks and live performances throughout the event. You can see the Christmas lights there from December 10th until December 23rd.

The admission is mostly free on week nights, but sometimes you might have to pay 3$ on peak weekends.

#4. Silver Dollar City (Branson, Missouri)

Silver Dollar City is a theme park in the Branson, Missouri. The park has been there since 1960 and it is a celebration of the Ozark Mountains culture. Silver Dollar City has for two decades been hosting ‘An Old Time Christmas Festival’ where you can see many Christmas lights.

You will see more than 6.5 million lights and over 1.000 decorated trees. Furthermore, there are parades every night as well as musicals. On of the most spectacular things about the park is their five-story special effects tree, which features around 350.000 LED light and at the same times plays Christmas music.

The park opened a Time Traveler coaster in 2013. It costed 26 million dollars and are decked out with 30 miles of lights for a dazzling nighttime ride.

You can see the Christmas decorations in the park until December 30th. The tickets start at 54$ for kids.

#5. Descanso Gardens (Los Angeles)

The fifth must-see Christmas lights place is in Descanso Gardens in Los Angeles. Here you will feel like you are in an imaginary world as you will see trees and flowers bathing in twinkling lights. If you want to be creative, you have the possibility to create your own light art at Lightwave Lake.

All the displays are kid-friendly, as they are designed to show off the natural beauty of the gardens. Some might experience a mental break from the typical red and green holiday frenzy and instead be at ease with their own imagination.

You can visit the garden and see the lights until January 6th, and the admission is 30$.

Where to watch Christmas lights in Europe

As you can see many Christmas lights displays in the USA, there are also a lot of magical and beautiful Christmas lights in Europe. Below you will read which 5 places we found the most spectacular.

#1. Nice, France.

Nice is one of the most beautiful cities in the south of France. Enjoy a wonderful walk through the streets of Nice and through the old village where you will see many sparkling lights. The temperature is mild during December, why it is a perfect time to walk around and see the many Christmas decorations.

Every year they change their decorations and fill the streets with sublime luminous installations. They are mostly over the top and gigantic. Following the lights, you can also discover the big Christmas market.

#2. Malaga, Spain.

Malaga is one of the trendiest Christmas destinations for all travelers in Europe. During Christmas time all the palm trees are covered in twinkling Christmas garlands. The shopping streets are filled with numerous of Christmas light decorations and you can visit many different Christmas markets. Malaga is one of the most innovative destinations for Christmas illuminations.

Every year people from around the world can come see a new Christmas lightning show.

#3. London, United Kingdom.

London is a very popular destination for people around the world during Christmas time. Each year visitors can expect to see Carnaby Street covered in beautiful and original illuminations. It does not only stop there, almost all of the streets of London are covered in breath taking twinkling lights. It is definitely a must see.

#4. Salerno, Italy.

Italy is not only the best place in the world to eat pasta and pizza, it is also one of the most beautiful places to see Christmas lights.

The city Salerno is one of the most illuminated cities in Europe. Every year they show new artistic creations to their Christmas magical show. You can see the beautiful lights from mid-November to the end of January.

In addition to the many Christmas lights, we suggest that you go see the Christmas market, and take a Ferris wheel tour to get a breathtaking view of all the illuminations of the city of Salerno.

#5. Colmar, France.

We have saved one of the best places for last. Christmas time in Colmar, France is a must-see. The city itself seems like it could be from a Christmas movie. The houses are old and traditional, and they look like gingerbread houses. It is filled with magical Christmas lights during the holidays and it is a very romantic city to visit.

From the end of November to the end of December, you can visit this spectacular city filled with beautiful Christmas decorations and Christmas lights. The inhabitants of Colmar take part in the decorations as they decorate their own houses and make them look magical.