When it comes to Christmas decorating ideas, the consumer is awash in choices every year – mini Christmas lights, purple, red, blue or green LED Christmas lights, candle lights, old-fashioned Christmas tree lights with torpedo-shaped bulbs, LED Christmas light nets – the options are endless.
As the owner of a small company that sells a unique kind of traditional Christmas Tree Candle, I enjoy watching trends in Christmas decorations and seeing what kind of Christmas tree lights people buy. This little light looms large in Christmas lore. It has a long and fascinating history.
It all started with the simple Christmas candle, which is credited to Martin Luther who, legend says, came up with the Christmas tree in the 16th century. The Christmas tree survived quietly for centuries until electric Christmas tree lighting came on the scene in the early 1900s and, as they say, the rest is history. The first electric Christmas lights debuted in the White House in 1895, thanks to President Grover Cleveland. The idea began to catch on, but the lights were expensive, so only the wealthiest of the wealthy could afford them at first.
Many early Christmas bulbs were shaped to look like what they had replaced: the classic Christmas tree candle. The candle shape fell out of vogue, and in time new varieties shaped like glass balls, animals, lanterns and Santa figures hit the scene. A new and improved candle-shaped bubble light re-emerged later on in the 20th century. This one was filled with percolating colored liquid that cast a flickering light on the tree as the bulb grew warm. You can still occasionally find vintage bubble Christmas lights like these in flea markets or antique shops. Electric Christmas lights continued to hold sway into the 1980s.