National Christmas Lights Day
annually on December 1st
Christmas lights—lights that are hung up on Christmas trees inside, and outside on buildings, trees, and other things—are celebrated today. They were invented in the early 1880s by Edward H. Johnson, an associate of Thomas Edison. On December 22, 1882, he lit his Christmas tree with 80 incandescent light bulbs, at his home in New York City. Prior to this time, candles were the only way to illuminate trees, and it still took many years before electric lights became the main way trees were lit, and before outside Christmas lights became popular. Lights originally were put on trees by Christians, and they symbolized Christ as being the light of the world.
In 1895 the first electric Christmas tree was lit at the White House. By the early 20th century some publicly displayed Christmas trees began having electric lights, although this wasn't done on a large scale until the 1950s. Even the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree did not have electric lights until 1956. Some businesses began putting up lights in store windows in the early 20th Century, but most everyday people couldn't even afford lights for their own Christmas trees until around 1930. In the mid 20th century, lights separate from trees began appearing on public buildings and along streets, and individual homes began being decorated outside by owners on a large scale in the 1960s. Eventually other types of Christmas lights, besides the bulb type, began being displayed, which included whole yard displays with animatronics and statues. Light displays are now popular on other holidays besides Christmas, such as on Easter and Independence Day.
Besides National Christmas Lights Day, there are other days when it may be fitting to put Christmas lights up. Many Christians put them up around Advent Sunday, and take them down by Epiphany. Other appropriate times to put up lights may be National Christmas Tree Day, or right after Thanksgiving.
How to Observe
Celebrate National Christmas Lights Day by putting up Christmas lights. Put them up on a tree, inside around your house, or outside on your house or on trees in your yard. Maybe you even can program your light display to synchronize with music, or enter a Christmas lights contest, which some towns and cities have. After you get your lights up, walk around your neighborhood to see what others have up, or go downtown or to public places like parks to see light displays.