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The tradition of using small candles to light up the Christmas tree dates back to at least the middle of the XVIIth century. However, it took two centuries for the tradition to become widely established first in Germany and soon spreading to Eastern Europe.
Candles for the tree were glued with melted wax to a tree branch or attached by pins. Around 1890, candleholders were first used for Christmas candles. Between 1902 and 1914, small lanterns and glass balls to hold the candles started to be used.
In 1882, the first Christmas tree was lit by the use of electricity. Edward Johnson lighted up a Christmas tree in New York City with eighty small electric light bulb. It should be noted that Edward Johnson created the first string of electric Christmas lights that were then mass produced around 1890. By 1900, department stores started using the new Christmas lights for their Christmas displays.
Edward Johnson was one of Thomas Edison's muckers, an inventor who worked under the direction of Edison. Johnson became vice-president of Edison's electric company.
Safe Christmas Lights
Albert Sadacca was fifteen in 1917, when he first got the idea to make safety Christmas lights for Christmas trees. A tragic fire in New York City involving Christmas tree candles inspired Albert to invent electric Christmas lights. The Sadacca family sold ornamental novelty items including novelty lights. Albert adapted some of the products into safe electric lights for Christmas trees. The first year only one hundred strings of white lights sold. The second year Sadacca used brightly colored bulbs and a multi-million dollar business took-off. Later, a company started by Albert Sadacca (and his two brothers Henri and Leon) called NOMA Electric Company became the largest Christmas lighting company in the world.