The Fourth Day of Christmas; lighting up time!

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Cartier store decoration, 2009

This post is a brief history of Christmas lights, chronology taken from Christmas: A Very Peculiar History by Fiona MacDonald.  Photos, as always, by me.

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Window display at Richard James, Saville Row, London 2008

Macy’s department store in New York, USA, pioneered special Christmas window displays in the 1870s.

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Display at Richard James, Saville Row, London, 2008

Edward H. Johnson, of Edison Electric Light Company, USA, was the first to decorate his tree with electric light bulbs, in 1882.

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Shopping Arcade, London

In 1904, Christmas lights were first used to decorate outdoor trees, but they were not yet electric.

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Claridges hotel, London, Christmas 2009

In 1927, the first organised outdoor Christmas light displays were held in the USA, called ‘Festivals of Lights’.

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Christmas floodlighting at RHS Wisley, Surrey

In 1956, electric lights were first used to decorate outdoor Christmas trees.

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Millennium glasshouse at Wisley

Despite the relative safety of electric lights over their predecessors, the US Fire Prevention Authority reported that between 2003-7 fire-fighters were called out to around 250 Christmas tree fires every year.

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Millennium glasshouse, Christmas 2010

Christmas light displays have become ever more spectacular over the decades but, with concerns about global energy supplies growing, perhaps their days will soon be numbered?

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Spooky Christmas lights at Wisley