Blog posts tagged with 'christmas lighting'

Untangling the History of Christmas Lights

Are you the kind of person who methodically puts away your Christmas lights each year in January making sure that they’re still working and that they’re neatly stored for easy access the next time you need them? Or do you shove them in the storage box, and hope that the tangled mess will continue to twinkle for years to come?

Whatever your preference, have you ever given a thought to why we decorate our Christmas trees with lights and how they became a staple decoration at Christmas time?

It All Started with Candles

People decorated trees with light long before electricity was invented. It’s said that the pagans used evergreens and lights during their winter celebrations and rituals, and their yule log still forms part of the Christmas celebrations today.

In the 17th century, Christian Germans brought their yuletide tree indoors and illuminated it with candles that were carefully attached with a pin or melted wax. A lit candle was also placed in the window of their house to show that it was a Christian house and that fellow Christians were welcome to visit and worship Christ together with the residents, a tradition that spread from Germany throughout Eastern Europe.


From Wax to Electricity

Fast forward to 1880, and we see Thomas Edison displaying the first outdoor electric light at Christmas outside the compound surrounding his laboratory. As the compound was near to a railway line, many people were able to see the new miracle of electricity.

A couple of years later in 1882, Edward Johnson, one of Edison’s protégées created the first string of electric lights with 80 red, white and blue bulbs, each of which was the size of a walnut. By 1890, the lights were in mass production and were displayed in department stores throughout the country. By the end of the century, the displays spread from retail stores to government buildings, and as the lights became more affordable over the following decades, they were seen adorning private homes too.


An Expensive and Dangerous Display

While Christmas trees twinkling with lights look beautiful, the dazzling displays did come at a cost. Not only did it take time and effort to decorate a tree with electric lights, it also took quite a sum of money.

For this reason, many people still used the traditional way of lighting their tree by attaching candles to the branches. However, unlike today’s modern displays, trees were usually only put up a few days before Christmas Day, and the candles would only be lit for a maximum of thirty minutes during the evening. Even so, every wise householder kept a bucket of water close by to the display in case the tree caught alight.

For those lucky enough to be able to afford to drape their trees with electric lights, unsurprisingly they chose to display their tree in the window so that people outside could also admire the display. The first lights could cost anything up to $300 dollars, a sum which equates to more than £1,500 now, as the wiring of these lights required the services of a wireman to hand wire each light onto the tree and the use of a generator.


Christmas Lights for the Masses

In 1925, the Sadacca brothers formed a company called NOMA (National Outfit Manufacturers) by uniting 15 existing Christmas light companies. One of the brothers, Albert, had been inspired to create safe and affordable Christmas lights after a devastating fire caused by Christmas tree candles in New York City.

NOMA mass-produced Christmas lights until 1968 when the company hit bankruptcy and finally closed its doors due to the increasing competition from other companies and foreign imports.


Today the Sky is the Limit

Today’s Christmas lights are an affordable option for all, and the availability of a wide selection of white and coloured lights makes it possible to create amazing displays both inside and outdoors. Many people set up magnificent displays outside their own homes, with everything from flashing neon reindeers to twinkling icicle strings.

Advances in technology have meant that LED lights which are energy efficient and help to reduce carbon emissions are both effective and affordable and come in many permutations and power options, from solar powered to those that are powered by batteries, USB or electricity.

And it also seems that Christmas lights are no longer the reserve of Christmas with many people choosing to adorn their homes both inside and out with ‘fairy’ lights throughout the year.

But whether you believe lights are for Christmas only or you keep your lights up all year round, you can always experience the magic of amazing lighting in your home by visiting our Christopher Wray showroom for some illuminating inspiration.

From Remembrance to Festive Cheer in London

Light has the ability to affect us in more ways than just visually. It also has psychological and biological effects that can have an impact on our health and wellbeing. Light can improve or disrupt our sleep. It can affect our cognition skills, and it can heighten emotions.

Light’s ability to affect our emotions has been much in evidence in recent weeks in London, where various forms of lighting have been cleverly used to not only help us remember and reflect but also to give us hope for the future and something to look forward to.


Light as a powerful symbol of remembrance

November 11th, 2018 marked the centenary of the end of the First World War. All over the UK and beyond, people came together to commemorate and remember the millions of people that gave their lives throughout the conflict. In London, the fallen were remembered in many different ways, but perhaps none more poignant than through the new installation at the capital’s iconic Tower of London.

Anyone who was lucky enough to brave the crowds to see ‘Beyond the Deepening Shadow: The Tower Remembers’ will have been struck by the moving ritual where 10,000 individual candles were lit to acknowledge the lives lost during the conflict and the ultimate sacrifice made by so many; a spectacle which took four hours to evolve into a breathtaking display of flames and a powerful symbol of remembrance.

Despite the enormous crowds, anyone who attended couldn’t help but be touched by the flickering lights. By lighting these candles as symbols of eternal life, it meant that their lives wouldn’t be forgotten, and that their sacrifice would always be respected.


Light as a symbol of celebration and hope

During the same week, London was bathed in more twinkling lights as the city’s Christmas lights were turned on. From Oxford Street to Carnaby Street, the famous London thoroughfares became awash with festive cheer, and over the next few weeks, more and more lights will appear as darkness falls.

During holiday periods, we love to fill our homes with shimmering lights, but the tradition started centuries ago when people lit candles during ancient winter solstice celebrations as a way of remembering that spring would soon be on the way.

As Christianity took hold, candles were lit to represent the star of Bethlehem, but other religions also use light to add cheer during the winters, including the Jews who light up a menorah during Hanukkah and the Hindus who have their own Festival of Light, Diwali.

And so, when special celebrations come around, we feel the need to fill our homes with light, both inside and out.


Lights are not just for Christmas

In modern times, battery and solar powered lighting ensures that we can illuminate our homes during the holiday season without needing to light candles. But, of course, lights are not just for Christmas or other religious celebrations; they’re an integral part of modern living and interior design.

So why not ring the changes this Yuletide by installing lighting that will last longer than the advent period? From traditional antique brass finish star lanterns to magnificent chandeliers and pendants that glisten and glitter as the light catches the crystals, there are so many beautiful light fittings to choose from which will give your home a festive feel all year round.

Whether you prefer a modern or traditional aesthetic in your home, or your tastes are flamboyant or minimalist, you’ll find an impressive array of stunning centrepieces that will illuminate your home in style throughout the year. So why not visit your local lighting store in London, choose a new light installation and dedicate it to someone you love this Christmas?

London's Christmas Lights 2018: When Are They Switched On And Where To See Them

Nothing quite heralds the arrival of the festive season like the switching on of London’s famous Christmas lights. London is a remarkable place to be year-round, but there’s something incredibly magical about the annual Christmas light period.

Little light bulbs glowing, Michael Buble songs blaring throughout the city’s speakers and the warmth of festivity that spread throughout simply cannot be beaten.

Whether you're attending the switching on of the lights themselves, shopping around town for Christmas gifts, or you are just out and about with your friends – it’s well worth the effort to stop and take some time to check out these wondrous lights.

Here’s our guide to some of the city’s hotspots for Christmas lights; where to see them and when they are getting switched on.

Seven Dials Christmas Lights

On Thursday the 15th of November 2018 the Seven Dials Christmas lights will be turned on. Take your time and stroll along the quaint cobbled streets, have a look at the variety of different shops and stop to enjoy a meal at the menagerie of world-class restaurants whilst marvelling at the incredible Christmas light display.

The switch-on itself will take place at 6.30 in the evening and simply shouldn’t be missed. From 5 pm until 9 pm the roads are closed and the area is traffic-free too, which makes the experience all the more awe-inspiring, as well as safe for the little ones.

Traditional Christmas gifts will be on display and come with some really great discounts; you can pick up some free mulled wine, complimentary food or simply enjoy the entertainment provided by the wonderful choir that really amplifies the Christmas cheer.

There’s also a ton of free workshops and classes to take part in too.

Kingston Christmas Lights

One of the City’s most prominent light switching is happening on Thursday the 15th of November at Kingston. The traditional Christmas market that opens on the same day makes the event even more memorable.

The whole of the town centre is set to turn into a winter wonderland with a wonderful Christmas spirit. The market stalls are all charmingly set up in small wooden cabins that encapsulate the feeling of the festive season. Get involved in this family-friendly event and enjoy craft workshops, mulled wine and traditional Christmas fare.

Sloan Square, Chelsea Christmas Lights

As you can imagine, the festive season in Chelsea is quite an elaborate affair and the festivities are centred from Sloane Square right across to the Duke of York Square.

At 2 pm on Saturday the 17th of November, the carol singers and other entertainers will start to get the cheer going as the groups of people begin to arrive for the main event. The kiddies can look forward to a Father Christmas and actual reindeer in the Duke of York Square.

The main switching on event takes place at 5 pm in Sloane Square and simply shouldn’t be missed.

Royal Exchange Christmas Lights

The Royal Exchange has created quite a stir around its 25ft Christmas tree and lighting event over the last couple of years and we can look forward to this treat on Wednesday the 21st of November this year.

The luxury shopping centre offers hot chocolate, mulled wine and mince pies to attendees, along with some excellent carolling and other special entertainments. The event begins at 6 pm with the lights getting switched on at 6:45 pm.

The Shard Christmas Lights

As has become standard over the last few years, The Shard will illuminate the top twenty floors of the building throughout December. The lights will be turned on from the 3rd of December from 4 pm to 1 am every night and they illuminate London’s night skies in a spectacular manner.

Christmas is one of the best times to visit London and get your fill of festive cheer so fill up your cup and head on down to some of the best lighting events throughout the city this year.

Give Yourself the Gift of Good Lighting This Christmas
Everyone deserves a well-lit home, why not you?