Here are some interesting tidbits from George Nelson’s Antique Christmas Light Site.
- The first electric Christmas lights were displayed in the home of Edward Johnson, a colleague of Thomas Edison, just three years after the light bulb was invented.. I suspect was actually a publicity stunt, as the New York papers did not cover the event. It was, however, covered by a reporter from the Detroit Post and Tribune. Johnson’s tree had hand wired lights in the patriotic colors of red, white and blue. The lights flashed alternately, and the tree rotated as well.
- Early in their history, Christmas lights were so expensive that they were more commonly rented than sold. An electrically lighted tree was a status symbol in the early 1900s.
- Electrically lit trees did not become “universal” in the United States until after World War II.
- Many of the earliest Christmas lights burned so hot that they were about as dangerous as the candles they were advertised to replace.