Today, many people take holiday lighting for granted. When the holidays roll around, a lot of people expect their neighbors and nearby businesses to decorate their properties with festive lights. While holiday lighting may be the norm today, it hasn’t always been.

A Brief History of Holiday Lighting in the U.S.

Long before people started using electric lights to illuminate their homes and businesses, they decorated their Christmas trees with candles. In 1832, a Harvard professor named Charles Follen decorated an evergreen tree with candles, which is widely believed to be the first lighted Christmas tree in the United States. More than four decades later, Frederick Artz invented a clip that enabled people to secure candles to their holiday trees in a more stable manner.

For the next few decades, Americans used Artz’s invention to illuminate their Christmas trees with candles even though Thomas Edison invented the first string lights in 1879, a year after Artz created the clip-on for candles. It wasn’t until 1882 that electric lights were used to illuminate a Christmas tree in the United States.

In that year, Edward H. Johnson, the vice president of Edison’s Electric Light Company, hung electric lights on his holiday tree. While most press outlets ignored Johnson’s decorations even though the 80 red, white and blue bulbs on his string lights were visible from the window of his Fifth Avenue home, Johnson’s illuminated tree was featured in a story that ran in a newspaper in Detroit. Despite getting little press for his tree, Johnson is still known as the Father of the Electric Christmas Tree.

Ten years later, President Grover Cleveland became the first sitting president of the United States to have a lighted Christmas tree adorned with electric lights in the White House. Although it would take a number of years for Americans to fully trust electric string lights, having a Christmas tree decorated with electric lights in the White House was a significant turning point for the public.

Illuminated Christmas trees quickly became sought-after holiday staples, at least for those who could afford them. At the time, renting a generator and hiring a wireman to light your Christmas tree cost about $300, which is approximately $2,000 in today’s dollars. Given their exorbitant price tag, illuminated Christmas trees were primarily reserved for the members of high society.

Why Use Commercial Christmas Lights

Just like Edison created his string lights to try to win a contract to provide electricity throughout Manhattan, many businesses now use commercial Christmas lights to try to make their storefronts stand out during the holidays. In fact, the practice of decorating businesses with electric lights during the holidays gained a lot of traction in the middle of the 20th century and the tradition has been going strong ever since.

While many retailers see a spike in revenue during the holiday season, even businesses that have nothing to do with Christmas can still enjoy some key benefits from using commercial Christmas lights. Here are some of the benefits your business can experience with holiday lighting:

  • Increased goodwill
  • Improved community spirit
  • Promotion of special events like charity drives
  • Better employee morale
  • Increased word of mouth
  • Free publicity

Contact Christmas Creations

If you want your business to enjoy the benefits that commercial Christmas lights can provide, hanging a few strands of lights around your entryway won’t do the trick. For an eye-catching holiday lighting display that will wow your customers and passersby, contact Christmas Creations. We’ll create a custom display for your commercial property that consumers will remember for all the right reasons. Contact our Siouxland-area Christmas light company today.