It’s coming on Christmas, they’re cutting down trees, they’re putting up reindeer and singing songs of joy and peace, oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on…~Joni Mitchell
It’s that magical time of year again, when we deck our halls with boughs of holly. Just the mere mention of Christmas brings to mind every Christmas song ever written; but have you ever stopped to wonder how the tradition of decorating our homes began? Honestly, we have come a long way from that manger in Bethlehem, throw in some hay and light the candles (no fire hazard there). The days of gold, frankincense and myrrh are long gone. These days our decorating schemes are far more elaborate, and it’s not just the Griswold’s doing it. In nearly every town in America you are but a stone’s throw away from a house with over-the-top Christmas decorations. Fun for the kids, not so fun for the person paying the electric bill.
Here’s some history: In 18th-century Germany, the upper-class began bringing Christmas trees into their homes, where they would adorn them with glass balls and candles (fortunately the first fire extinguisher on record was patented several years before). However it was in America where we first illuminated our trees electrically. We’re just brilliant that way. It is a little known fact that an associate inventor of none other than Thomas Edison, had Christmas tree lightbulbs made especially for him, circa 1880. It took quite a while to catch on, but by the 1960’s here in the U.S. it became popular to outline private homes with Christmas lights, and by the late 20th century, the custom had been adopted in non-western countries as well.
And so it is, that shortly after the last leftover-turkey sandwich has been eaten, we go forth and buy our tree, string up our lights and deck our halls. Fa la la la la, la la la la!
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