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Whether you start on Black Friday or wait until December, putting up holiday lights and other decorations is a routine part of the season. Every year that you untangle the lights and pull out the boxes, you take part in a long tradition. The chances are good that the idea started much earlier than you thought. See how we went from using basic candles to the amazing light displays that are now available.

Holiday Candles

You can trace holiday lighting traditions back to the 1600s in Germany. Many Germans used a sticky type of wax to hang candles from their trees. They would later switch to pins to keep the candles in place, similar to the ornament hangers you use today. Immigrants brought the tradition with them to the United States. They continued using candles up through 1900 and the early part of the 20th century.

First Lights

Edward Johnson came up with the idea of holiday lights in 1882. Johnson knew candles were a fire hazard and looked for ways to use the new bulbs invented by Thomas Edison. He designed a set of bulbs in blue, white, and red, which he combined with a small generator and a rotating stand. Just two years later, Johnson increased the strand from 80 to 120 bulbs. While they were popular, many shoppers couldn’t afford the lights, which cost $12 at the time.

President Cleveland

The tradition of using holiday lights owes a lot to U.S. President Grover Cleveland. In 1894, he became the first president to hang holiday lights in the White House. It helped that imitators popped up and began making affordable options. Not only did the lights cost less than $2 per strand, but they also came in more colors. You can also give some credit to Albert Sadacca. In 1917, he designed safer lights that were less prone to fire hazards.

Other Changes

After World War II, NOMA burst onto the scene with bubble lights. The holiday lights had a special liquid inside that got hotter when the lights ran, creating a bubble effect inside. In the 1950s, companies began making rotating light wheels to give the illusion of lights on the popular aluminum trees. It wasn’t long after that blow molds hit the market. From Santa and his reindeer to Nativity scenes, these large, plastic decorations have lights inside that illuminate them.

You have even more options today when it comes to holiday lights. You can make your house stand out with a unique display that no one else has. Choose twinkle lights or go with lights that let you switch between colors and create interesting designs. Contact Henninger Electric to get help with holiday lighting for your home in Cedar Valley, IA.

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