Sunday, December 2

Tinsel and lights and outward show

Clementine and I got to help Momma decorate the house tonight with some of those new-fangled electric Christmas lights.

Christmas lights originated with the use of candles to decorate the Christmas tree in upper-class homes in 18th-century Germany. However, candles caused a lot of fires.

In the United Kingdom, the Savoy owner Richard D'Oyly Carte equipped the principal fairies with miniature lighting for the opening night of Gilbert and Sullivan's opera Iolanthe on Nov. 25, 1882. (The term "fairy lights" for  electric Christmas lights has been used ever since in England.)

The first known electrically-illuminated Christmas tree was by Edward H. Johnson, an associate of inventor Thomas Edison. He had 80 red, white and blue electric incandescent light bulbs the size of walnuts especially made for him which he displayed on his Christmas tree on Dec. 22, 1882 at his New York City home.

By 1900, businesses started stringing up Christmas lights behind their windows. Christmas lights were too expensive for the average person so electric Christmas lights did not become the majority replacement for candles until 1930.

In the United States, it became popular to outline private homes with Christmas lights in the 1960s. By the late 20th century the custom had also been adopted in other countries, especially Japan.

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