Christmas is coming and you might be happily hanging those Christmas lights around your tree, but do you know behind those lights lies a story, timeless traditions and amazing facts? So before you lay down those cookies and milk for Santa, here are 9 Merry things you probably never knew about Christmas lights!
1. Thomas Edison Strung The First Christmas Lights In 1882
The father of the light bulb, Thomas Edison, invented long strands of lights in 1880 and was used 2 years later as a decoration.
The Vice-President of his company, the Edison Illuminating Company, hung 80 hand-wired lights around a rotating Christmas tree in his home. It was so enchanting that reporters describe what they say as ‘a continous twinkling of dancing colors – red, white, blue, white – one can hardly imagine anything prettier.’
2. The First Lights Were Very Expensive
As their popularity grew, getting a full set of lights, a generator and wiring services would cost as much as $2000 in today’s dollars to illuminate a Christmas tree with electric lights!
Thankfully, a breakthrough came in 1903 when GE (General Electric) created the first pre-wired 8-socket strings of lights that made Christmas lights flood into the mainstream allowing the creation of the modern Christmas light industry which saw prices fall dramatically.
3. Blinking Lights Are A Miracle Of Science
Ever felt enchanted by those lights that blink elegantly in a delightful on-off pattern? All it takes is a simple thermostat that controls this in an on-off pattern. When you plug in your lights, a strip of metal inside the bulb is heated by the electricity until it bends. This will then break the circuit and turns off the light. The strip will then cool and reconnect to the same circuit again, allowing the light to reappear.
4. The Guinness World Record For Most Lights Hung Belongs To A Family
While most of us would think a company or public space holds the record, the truth couldn’t be more delightfully different. A family in New York in 2014 decorated a 2-acre space with 601,736 lights, outstripping even the famous 2016 Rockefeller Christmas Tree that was decorated with 50,000 lights.
5. China Is The World’s Recycling Hub For Broken Christmas Lights
As much as we love our blinking lights, what happens once they no longer work? It goes to Shijiao, a town in China of course! Almost 20 million pounds of lights are shipped yearly to this city, where they are recycled and broken down into their different component materials. These are either than recycled into new Christmas lights or other products such as furniture, ornaments and slippers.
6. How Many Lights Can You String On A Tree? 518,838?
While the family in New York holds the record for most lights in an area, David Richards of Australia holds the Guinness World Record for the largest display of Christmas lights on an artificial tree.
How many you ask? 518,838 to be exact! This record held an individual man broken the previous record clinched by Universal Studios Japan’s 2015 record of 374,280 lights! We still wonder how long it took Richards to exactly accomplish it!
7. Electric Lights – Powered By An Electric Eel
While we are powering our lights from our power socket, the Enoshima Aquarium in Japan surprised onlookers and the world when they revealed what truly powered their Christmas tree’s lights – an electric eel from the Amazon. Each time the eel moves, it can produce up to 800W of electricity! Talk about novel indeed!
8. US Christmas Lights Use Up Enough Electricity To Power Countries
According to researchers, American household Christmas lights actually use up more electricity than the annual power consumption of countries such as Ethiopia and El Salvador! These bright lights that are strung on Christmas trees, rooftops and home lawns account for 6.63 billion kWh of electricity every year – but this is just only 0.2% of the entire US energy consumption!
9. Before Christmas Lights Were Invented, People Used Candles
It was around the middle-ages (5th to 15th Century) where records showed that people actually used candles to celebrate Christmas. A large candle was used to represent the star of Bethlehem. It was also found that candles were originally used to decorate Christmas trees until the much safer electric lights were invented and used!
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