Yep, prior to 1882, if you had a Christmas tree and someone told you to light it, you’d strike a match and proceed to the candles. 😮 Hopefully, you didn’t have a dog, cat, kid, or inebriated family around! 🙂
From Today in Science History: The long-standing tradition of using candles on a Christmas tree was both sentimentally popular but also dangerous as many house fires resulted. Thus, the use of a string of light bulbs to illuminate a Christmas tree had an important side benefit of increasing safety.
Yet the idea was captivating, not because of safety, but because of the novelty of electric light when Thomas Edison’s business associate, Edward H. Johnson, in 1882 decorated a Christmas tree in his own home with small electric light bulbs. When Johnson first used them on 22 Dec 1882, it was just three years after Edison had invented a practical way to manufacture them.
Johnson’s glowing Christmas tree was visible through his home’s windows, and caused a stream of people to pass by his house, intrigued by this new use of electricity. It was described in an article by William Augustus Croffut, a Michigan newspaper reporter. Read more