Countless twinkling lights are strewn about each year come Christmas time. And while it seems to be an age-old tradition, electric Christmas lights didn’t really catch on until the early twentieth century.
The concept stemmed, of course, from Thomas Edison’s invention of the light bulb in 1879. Months later, he created the very first strand of electric lights.
Then, a few years later, his right-hand man Edward H. Johnson put the very first string of electric Christmas lights together, the Library of Congress reports — a hand-wired string of 80 red, white and blue bulbs.
However, those used to lighting their Christmas trees with candles at the time weren’t ready to switch over just yet. Electricity still wasn’t readily available and, if it was, it wasn’t cheap. According to some, to light an average Christmas tree with electric lights before 1903 would have cost $2,000 in today’s dollars.
It wasn’t until decades later that Albert Sadacca thrust the lights into the mainstream. By the 1920s, the Sadacca family organized the National Outfit Manufacturers Association (NOMA), a trade association. NOMA soon became NOMA Electric Co., with its members cornering the Christmas light market until the 1960s.
Today, lights are hung on Christmas trees and adorn houses around the globe. Here’s a look at some displays nowadays across the world.
Many enjoy making elaborate Christmas light displays, such as this one in upstate New York.
This home in Florida sets up an incredible array of decorations.
Some add personal, hand-made touches to their Christmas light display, like this family in Florida.
The Milton family decorated the yard with hand-painted cutouts, lights, trees, nutcrackers and more.
While it may be summer down under, Australians still get into the Christmas spirit. Here’s a giant Christmas tree in Sydney’s city centre glistening in the summer sun.
These homeowners in England, like many others, added a philanthropic element to their display.
Money raised from selling hot chocolate at their house was donated to a local hospital.
Some displays nowadays incorporate screens or projections and sync their lights to music, such as this one in Winnipeg.
"It is a beautiful light show to watch from across the lake," Paul Krawchuk said.
And some neighbors — even whole blocks — go in together to create a magical experience. These two families in Calgary incorporated possibly every blow-up character you could imagine.
This story was reported from Detroit. Storyful contributed.