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.
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.
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.
Shopping Arcade, London
In 1904, Christmas lights were first used to decorate outdoor trees, but they were not yet electric.
Claridges hotel, London, Christmas 2009
In 1927, the first organised outdoor Christmas light displays were held in the USA, called ‘Festivals of Lights’.
Christmas floodlighting at RHS Wisley, Surrey
In 1956, electric lights were first used to decorate outdoor Christmas trees.
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.
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?
Spooky Christmas lights at Wisley