Francine In Retirement
Seeing Life Through Photography



People first started putting lights on Christmas trees back in the middle of the 17th century. They attached small candles to the ends of tree branches with wax or pins. Before electricity was widely available, people didn’t usually put up their trees until December 24 because of the risk of fire. Once electric Christmas tree lights were invented, people started to put up trees earlier, and leave them up longer.

IMG_8868AAA The American custom of using electric lights began in 1882 when Edward Johnson an associate of Thomas Edison, hand-wired 80 red, white and blue bulbs and wound them around a rotating evergreen tree. Then, in 1895, President Grover Cleveland set up a lighted Christmas tree in the White House and the general public began to notice. So began the tradition.


General Electric (Edison’s company) began bringing good things to light as the 1800s came to a close, offering hand-blown bulbs that needed to be wired together like beads on a string. Homeowners had to hire a “wireman” to stab the mess together, much as you’ll have to call someone to get your new computer online tomorrow.



In 1900, some large stores started to put up large illuminated trees to attract customers. Members of high society began hosting Christmas Tree parties. These were grand events since a typical lighted tree of the early 1900s cost upwards of $300 (more than $2000 in today’s dollars), including the generator and wireman´s services.



To be continued.



11 Responses to “PUTTING UP THE LIGHTS”

  1. What a job, getting those lights up and getting them to end up in such a nice pattern.

  2. These are very good photos Francine, I bet the man would love the first one!

  3. Great job, I’m impressed! 🙂

  4. Great post, Francine, and a nice bit of research to go with it. 🙂

  5. Love the images, they always have a piece of your own heart’s radiance brightly shining through…you are amazing Francina! God bless you dear sister!

  6. An interesting read Francine – I did not realise keeping your tree up for weeks was a relatively new thing. The Christmas tree in Pittsburgh looks stunning!

  7. Oh my goodness, just imagine having real candles on a Christmas Tree! Your Pittsburgh tree is stunning. Thanks for sharing, Francine. 🙂

  8. Quite an informative and entertaining post, Francine. The Philadelphia tree is beautiful; do you suppose you can talk them into keeping it up until the Philadelphia Flower Show in March?

  9. Making the season bright! You do Pittsburgh proud.

  10. I like you interesting notation on the beginnings of lighting for Chhristmas. The tree photo is so very festive.

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