Christmas – a time to sparkle
Christmas is a time of light – church candles, shop lights, lights on the tree at home and huge public displays that we make a special journey to see. At the darkest time of the year (in the northern hemisphere) the magic and sparkle of these lights bring cheer and warmth to us all.
The tradition of Christmas lights goes back to the 17th century when the Germans began to illuminate their Christmas trees with candles. In honour of his birth, they symbolise Christ being the "light of the world".
Christmas trees and candles were always a risky partnership. But it wasn’t until the early 1880s that Edward H. Johnson, an associate of inventor Thomas Edison, introduced the first electric lights.
In 1895 US President Grover Cleveland sponsored the first electrically lit Christmas tree in the White House. At the same time, the first commercially produced Christmas tree lamps were manufactured by the General Electric Co in New Jersey.
However, for many years electric Christmas lights were too expensive for most people and so they did not really replace candles until the 1930s.
Over time indoor lights made their way outdoors and then on to decorate other places other than trees. From the outside of homes to city skyscrapers, lights began to illuminate our whole Christmas landscape.
Today, we see some of the most wonderful Christmas displays all over the world - displays that draw visitors from thousands of miles away.
- Rockefeller Center, New York
Love Christmas – you’ll love this.The tree at Rockefeller Center is decorated with some 45,000 lights to cover its 80 feet. The first tree was lit in 1933 and today, more than half a million people walk by the tree each day and take a turn on the ice.