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The Lights on the Christmas Tree

At one time lighting up your Christmas tree was a dilemma because there was no electricity. However, people have been putting lights on their Christmas trees since the middle of the 17th century. They would use small candles that would be attached to the tree branches with special clips. In fact, this is the way that Latvians have always lit up their trees and only in recent years began putting on electric lights. Therefore to avoid the chance of fire people only put up their trees starting on Christmas Eve.

The use of electric Christmas lights started in 1882. Edward Johnson who was an associate of Thomas Edison took 60 white, red, and blue bulbs and hand-wired them and then put them around a rotating evergreen tree. President Grover Cleveland was the first to set up a lighted Christmas tree in the White House in 1895 and so the tradition began. It was after this that General Electric which was Edison’s company started offering hand-blown bulbs which had to be wired together like beads on a string. It was up to the homeowners to hire someone to string them together. It was still rather inconvenient to have your tree lit by electric bulbs.

Then in the 1900s stores began to attract customers by setting up large, lighted Christmas trees and those who belonged to high society started hosting Christmas parties. These grand events included a lighted tree which in those days cost from $300 dollars on up, including a generator and a wireman to string the lights. In today’s economy that would be over $2,000. Then the American Eveready Company came out with a Christmas light set in 1903 which included screw-in bulbs and a plug for the wall socket and in 1908 Ralph Morris had the idea to take lights from an old telephone switchboard and wire these on a Christmas tree powering them by a battery.

By now you’re probably thinking that we sure are lucky to be living in this modern age. It was rather complicated but then along came Albert Sadacca. In 1917 there was a tragic fire in New York City which happened to be caused by a Christmas tree lit by candles. So Albert who was then 15 had a brilliant idea. His family was Spanish immigrants who had a novelty business that sold wicker cages with imitation birds in them and these birds lit up. He made the suggestion to his parents that they should start making electric lights for Christmas trees. That first year they sold one hundred strings of electric Christmas tree lights. Then Albert came up with the idea of painting the bulbs in colors such as red and green. Business picked up and in the end, Albert became the head of a multi-million dollar business.

The company which Albert and his brothers Henri and Leon were are part of was NOMA Electric Company which became the largest Christmas tree lighting company in the world for all of the years it was in business prior to 1965.

  • Question /

    Do you decorate your house with lights?

    • Yes
    • No
  • Question /

    Do you put many lights on your Christmas tree?

    • Yes
    • No

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