Our Christmas tree has been up since around the first of December, but traditionally, trees weren’t brought in and set up until Christmas Eve. Normally the tree would remain in the house (most often on top of a small table) until January 5th. Some considered it bad luck to have a tree up before the 23rd.
Setting up and decorating the Christmas tree was a major event and the celebration often included a feast and guests. Carols would have been sung as the candles were lit to illuminate the tree.
In 1882 Edward Johnson, an associate of Thomas Edison created the first string of Christmas tree lights. He was the Vice President of the Edison Electric Light Company and ordered a hand-wired string of 80 red, white, and blue light-bulbs the size of walnuts. He proudly displayed these lights on the tree in his New York City home on Christmas Eve and the story was carried by papers as far away as Detroit.
Since many people were still wary of electricity, not believing it was safe, nor would it last long, the idea didn’t immediately take off. Thirteen years later, in 1895 President Grover Cleveland had the first electric lighted Christmas tree at the White House and in 1901 this advertisement appeared in an issue of McClure’s Magazine.
By 1903, the idea was becoming more popular and General Electric applied for a patent for Christmas lighting. The patent was denied declaring the idea was based on knowledge “any ordinary wireman” had and therefore not patentable. The idea then took off, and several companies took advantage of a new market, manufacturing and selling Christmas decorations.
From our house to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!