February 7, 2023

The Evolution of Christmas Decorations

Prevalence of Christmas Decorations
the evolution of xmas decorationsYou might not have ever thought about it, but Christmas decorations haven’t always been so prevalent.  Can you imagine there was a time when December didn’t bring streets lined with brightly lit homes and sparkling trees? Or can you picture a time when downtown streets and shops weren’t lit with festive holiday lights?

You probably can’t, but believe it or not, in the big scheme of things such a time was not that long ago.  In the 2,000 or so years since the birth of Christ, it’s only within the last 150 years or so that Christmas decorations have been so prevalent in the United States.

Festive Lighting–A Little History

the evolution of xmas decorations 1Although Christmas decorations per se are relatively new, for millennia, light has been an integral part of religious and spiritual festivals celebrating the cycle of life.  Ancient peoples recognized light and the importance of it to life itself and therefore assigned it an important position.  Symbolic, ceremonial use of festive lighting became a staple fairly early on in the course of humanity.

the evolution of xmas decorations 2Traditionally, the Jews used light to indicate the beginning and end of their most holy day–Shabbat or the Sabbath.  The lighting of Friday night Shabbat candles to this day begins the Sabbath at sundown and ends it Saturday evening with the lighting of the elegant twisted Havdalah candle.  Since the Jews used candlelight for signifying the beginning of all the important festivals like Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Tu Be Shevat and Passover, it was only natural that when Christianity developed as an offshoot of this religion that the use of candlelight followed down this new path.

The Origins of Christmas Light Displays in the US.
the evolution of xmas decorations 3Over the centuries the use of festive lighting in the world’s religions continued, but not until the mid-nineteenth century did Christmas take on the significance that would make it stand out as a day different than any other in the relatively new country–the United States.  At this time the Germans are credited with bringing the first Christmas tree to the US.  Initially, citizens were reluctant to bring a tree into their home.  It just didn’t make sense to them.  Imagine Grandmother’s horror when a dirty tree came into the house.  But, as is common in all generations,  youth prevailed, pursued the trends of the times and eventually the Christmas tree became the staple it is in our homes today.

Beginning with just a small decorated tree in the home, the tradition of Christmas light displays and eventually extensive decorating and holiday lights of all kinds began.  Sometimes it’s hard to believe that the expansive holiday lighting we see each year began so humbly with man’s homage to the life-giving light of the sun.

the evolution of xmas decorations 4Contribute to the environment by using energy efficient xmas lightthe evolution of xmas decorations 5

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