Tree lights

Who Started The Christmas Light Craze?

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Texans love lights on the tree, lights on the house, and lights on just about anything that stands still around Christmas time. Loved by many and disdained by others, this modern trend of electric lights on Christmas trees probably saved thousands of lives because they replaced actual candles on cut live trees!

In 1882, Edward H. Johnson wired together the very first string of electric lights designed to wind around a Christmas tree. He hand-wired 80 red, white and blue light bulbs for his own Christmas tree, but his new invention never really caught on because the general public was still a little afraid of electricity.

United States President, Grover Cleveland began to change that when in 1895 he asked for the White House family Christmas tree to be illuminated by hundreds of multicolored electric light bulbs. Then on Christmas Eve 1923, President Calvin Coolidge lit up the National Christmas Tree with an amazing 3,000 electric lights. 

Back then, a “wireman,” now referred to as an electrician, would need to install strings of lights on your Christmas tree. It’s estimated that lighting an average Christmas tree with electric lights before 1900 would have cost about $2,000 in today’s money.

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At the beginning of the twentieth century, General Electric introduced “pre-assembled” kits of stringed Christmas lights for decorating your tree which brought the price down considerably. The real craze began however, in 1917 when an American teenager recognized a real opportunity in selling Christmas tree lights. Albert Sadacca talked his family into selling brightly colored strands of Christmas lights through their novelty business. Albert and his brothers organized what became the National Outfit Manufacturers Association Electric Company that basically owned the entire Christmas light market until the 1960s.