Thomas Edison didn’t invent the light bulb until 1879. Nighttime came early then, especially over the short days of winter. Now, surrounded by neon and fluorescent and tungsten, it is practically impossible to imagine electricity
as a luxury item.
As electricity flourished, so did Christmas lighting. George Nelson has been collecting early American electric Christmas lighting for over 25 years, from the period between 1900 to 1950, and offers an amazing online view of that history (and much more) at Old Christmas Lights. The page Christmas Tree Lights Before Electricity sets the scene for the way it was.
Wrapped around trees and houses, the colors still enthrall us and punctuate the season with their bright energy. As Mr. Nelson would say, Christmas Peace.