How the Christmas light tradition started


The warm glow of holiday lights near Appleby Line evokes cherished memories, but how many of us know the history behind how this tradition came to be such a central part of the festive season?

To illuminate your conversations this year, here are some little-known facts about holiday lights:

1. The practice of using electric lights on Christmas trees started in 1895 in the United States, as an alternative to candles. Before that, people would balance candles on tree branches, a tradition that led to many home fires.

2. Like any new technology, holiday lights were so expensive when first introduced that few people could afford them. According to American historians Bill and George Nelson, in the early 1900s families rented their lights rather than buying them outright.

3. The Nelson brothers' research reveals that outdoor holiday lights were first introduced in 1927, but they were small, dangerous and not properly designed for the elements. Today, a rigorous certification process ensures such products meet safety standards.

4. Launched in 1985 in the national capital region as a way to liven up the darkest of winter days, Christmas Lights across Canada is now a popular event in numerous cities and towns from coast to coast. Held this year from December 3 to January 7, more than 300,000 dazzling lights will glow throughout downtown Ottawa.

5. Despite what some in your neighbourhood might do, holiday lights aren't meant for year-round use. The long, cold winter can cause cords to crack and lead to a shock or fire. Remember to store them away after the holidays.

“We want to remind Ontarians to make safety the first item on their lists so that the holidays can be enjoyed to the fullest,” says Scott Saint, the Chief Public Safety Officer at the Electrical Safety Authority.

More information can be found at www.esasafe.com.

www.newscanada.com

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