Fairy Lights Burning Bright

The holidays are just around the corner, and everyone is putting up their festive decorations and Christmas trees.  I found this cute little ad for electric lights on Christmas trees, which some companies coined ‘fairy lights.’

GE+Brochure xmas

Image courtesy of George and Bill Nelson, from Bill’s Antique Christmas Light Site.

The ad got me thinking about Christmas lights and the availability of them to your average Joe.  With electricity becoming a staple in upper class homes around the late 1880s/1890s, it’s no surprise that some wished to capitalize on this easier way of decorating trees. The very first Christmas lights were installed on Edward Johnson‘s tree in 1882, which included 80 hand-wired, walnut sized incandescent bulbs in bright reds, greens, and blues. Grover Cleveland (22nd and 24th President of the United States), first used lights on the White House tree in 1895.   By 1903, General Electric had capitalized on this decoration, preventing the hassle of lighting a bunch of tiny candles on flammable trees.  G.E. makes note of this in their 1900 advertisement for the same product:

Edison+burning+tree+ad

Image courtesy of George and Bill Nelson, from Bill’s Antique Christmas Light Site.

Lights didn’t become a popular addition to most family trees until the 1930s.

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1 Comment

Filed under 1880s, 1890s, 1900s, Advertisement

One response to “Fairy Lights Burning Bright

  1. Fun and informative post, thank you! Sharing it with my Likers on Facebook. Merry Christmas!

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