A Timeline of Christmas Tree Lighting
Written by: The GRESCO Lighting Group
The lighting of the Christmas tree is documented in the German Renaissance period, when candles were placed on the tree to represent Jesus, The Light of the World.
The first documented use of electric Christmas tree lights was recorded in 1882, at the home of Edward H. Johnson, the VP of Edison Electric Light Company at the time. Lights were not used in the mainstream public until 1920 due to their cost. (They cost $350.00 per string in today’s money and had to be wired by an electrician!)
President Grover Cleveland had the first electrified Christmas tree in the White House in 1885.
General Electric has sponsored Community Competitions for Christmas Lighting since 1920 but the concept did not take off until the 1950s. McAdenville, North Carolina, is credited with inventing the tradition of lighting evergreen trees in the landscape with lights when the Men’s Club lit several evergreens around the McAdenville Community Center. The Rockefeller Center’s and Disney’s traditions for electric lighting for trees started the same year, in 1956.
Lighting expanded in the 1950s to include mantels and wreaths inside the home. Lighting became fun with bubble lights and unique shapes.
The 1960s brought the lighting outside with outdoor-rated light sets that adorned porch rails, door frames and outlined the eaves of homes. The competition was on…
Municipal decoration kept pace and continues today to be an integral part of the Christmas experience.
1989 – The movie Nation Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is released in theaters.
2006 – The Capitol Christmas Tree is lit with 100% LED lights. We now have energy-efficient ways to continue our Christmas traditions.
The year 2013 brought the Great Christmas Light Fight, a TV show where people competed to have the most outrageous outdoor Christmas display and take home the trophy!