News

History of Christmas lights: From candles to LEDs

History of Christmas lights: From candles to LEDs

SHINE BRIGHT: Christmas decorations used to be a lot more dangerous. Photo: clipart.com

Christmas decorations were simpler before electricity. And more dangerous.

For centuries, people used candles to light their homes in the dark days of winter. When they started putting up Christmas trees, they lit those with candles, too. Which led to a lot of fires.

That began to change once Thomas Edison created the first practical light bulb. Edison also was apparently the first to put electric lights outdoors at Christmas. The Library of Congress says he strung some together and hung them outside his Menlo Park, N.J., laboratory during the Christmas season of 1880.

Two years later, Edison’s friend and partner Edward Johnson wired 80 red, white and blue light bulbs together and wound them around his Christmas tree. For added drama, he made the tree revolve.

In 1895, President Grover Cleveland ordered mutli-colored electric light bulbs for the White House family tree.

But electric Christmas lights were expensive and remained a rarity until 1903, when General Electric began to offer pre-assembled Christmas light kits. Their popularity grew after a novelty lighting company owned by Albert Sadacca and his brothers began selling strings of lights to the public. Their company cornered the Christmas light market until the 1960s.

Today China is the primary producer of Christmas lights, particularly the energy-saving LED variety, because of its plentiful cheap labor and large supplies of the necessary raw materials.

What's On 'KLH?

Vote for BEER in ’16!

hometownbrew_int_wp2REV

Pick up a 6-pack of our limited edition WKLH / Sprecher Hometown Brew 30th Anniversary Lager at these fine locations…

Hire Me MKE

HireMeMKE_620x400

Looking for a job around the Milwaukee area? Check out some opening…

Wanna Play DJ?

HEYMOM

You can host your own show Sunday night at 6 on ‘KLH!

Recent Headlines

2 hours ago in Entertainment

REVIEW: ‘How To Be Single’ feels the same while trying too hard to be different

Fresh
22-overlay-9

"How to Be Single" makes a valiant attempt to send up rom-com clichés but it borrows so much from other, better movies that you start to wonder if the film’s title should be "How to Commit Larceny."

3 hours ago in Music

Springsteen promises to show his mind in autobiography

springsteen

Springsteen, 66, has been working on the autobiography, called "Born to Run," for seven years.

4 hours ago in National

Wall Street tumbles

stocks

Wall Street was off more than 1 percent on Thursday, pushing the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones industrial average down 10 percent for the year, as investors jettisoned stocks and scurried toward safer shores.