The History of Christmas Lights by Jasmine Flanders

In some areas or households, Christmas lights are a yearly tradition. Whether they are used to light up a Christmas tree or a whole house, these festive lights are perfect to put everybody in good spirits.

Originally, Christmas lights were candles used primarily to light up tree ornaments. The candles would be attached to the trees with wax or pins. This tradition started in Germany during the seventeenth century and would slowly spread throughout Eastern Europe. By the 1900s, instead of wax and pins, candleholders became the norm, and soon, in 1915, lanterns were beginning to be used.

In New York, the first electrical Christmas lights were made, and in 1822, Edward Johnson lit the first Christmas tree with electrical light in the iconic blue, red, and white colors commonly associated with this time of year. Electrical lights would not become the standard for a long time, though, as the prices were high. By 1990, they cost $300, estimated to be about $2000 today. This high price could partially be due to the ornate paintings on the bulbs, made from milk glass, so the paint wouldn’t crack from the heat.

Today, Christmas lights are fairly common and can be seen almost everywhere. For example, Candy Cane Lane in Pacific Grove annually celebrates the winter season by putting up a spectacle of lights for the public to walk through and get in the holiday spirit.