Home For the Holidays Part 2: Light’s Modern Holiday History

Posted on December 18, 2014 by John Bruce

outdoor_holiday_lighting_Kansas_CityLast week, we posted about the ancient history of holiday lighting – both Christmas and Hanukkah lighting. As you saw then, light has long been a part of holiday tradition. It’s been welcoming many of our ancestors home for many generations. Though modern light may have changed forms (we use fewer candles and fires), it still provides us with warmth, welcome, and security as we reunite with our loved ones to celebrate the holiday season. With the invention of the incandescent bulb in the 19th century, the stage was set for the emergence of electrically powered holiday lighting, though it would be the middle of the 20th century before it became popular.


The Christmas tree has long been a part of the Christmas tradition. While it too has its roots in ancient customs that were appropriated by the Christian church when it moved into Northern Europe, families began to decorate Christmas trees by affixing candles with glue or wires. Legend states that Martin Luther first decorated the Christmas tree with candles after seeing an evergreen tree with starlight twinkling through its branches during a walk in the woods. In the late 1800s, Edward Johnson, who worked for Thomas Edison, first used incandescent lights on his personal Christmas tree. It was seen as a publicity stunt to further the use of Edison’s electric lighting, but he still became the father of electric Christmas tree lights and paved the way for the millions of lights we see in our communities at Christmas time.


outdoor_holiday_lighting2_Kansas_CityHanukkah lighting has taken a steps into the electric era as well. There are many electric Hanukkah lights for decorating available on the market, including menorahs, string lighting, and 3-D sculptures. The star of David, the menorah, and the dreidel are common symbols used in string lights and sculptures. Though electricity can help with Hanukkah decorating, the ritual lighting of the menorah still uses candles or oil. This is important because the miracle of Hanukkah is that the menorah oil did not burn out when it was supposed to but rather lasted eight nights. Electric lights can serve to brighten the festivities, and electric menorahs can remind us of the celebration.


Wherever home may be this year, Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Kansas City hopes that you are welcomed by beautiful holiday lighting – whether that lighting is incandescent, LED, candle light, or that of a crackling fire. There is truly no place like home for the holidays. It will always be shining brightly welcoming and waiting. So go home, Kansas City, enjoy your time with family and friends, and if for any reason, your outdoor lighting flickers, dims, or goes out, give us a call. We can have your lights shining brightly again soon.



John Bruce, Owner
Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Kansas City
(913) 859-9150