National Christmas Lights Day – December 1, 2023

National Christmas Lights Day is a festive celebration that typically occurs in early December, marking the beginning of the holiday season for many people around the world. This day is dedicated to the tradition of decorating homes, streets, and public spaces with colorful and often elaborate Christmas lights. The origins of this tradition can be traced back to the use of candles to decorate Christmas trees in 18th-century Germany, which later evolved with the advent of electricity into the modern practice of using electric lights.

The day is not only about the aesthetic appeal of these decorations but also symbolizes the spirit of the holiday season, which includes themes of joy, generosity, and community. People often use this day as an opportunity to come together with family and friends to decorate their homes and neighborhoods, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The lights also serve as a reminder of the festive season, bringing cheer and brightness during the darker winter months.

In many cities and towns, National Christmas Lights Day is marked by official lighting ceremonies, where large Christmas trees or entire streets are lit up for the first time of the season. These events often include other festive activities like live music, caroling, and sometimes even the appearance of Santa Claus, making it a much-anticipated event for both children and adults.

Moreover, this day has grown to encompass a range of creative displays, from simple string lights to elaborate animated setups synchronized to music. The creativity and effort put into these displays often turn neighborhoods into tourist attractions, drawing visitors from far and wide.

National Christmas Lights Day is a reflection of the joy and warmth of the holiday season, encouraging people to spread cheer and enjoy the beauty of the lights as they prepare for the upcoming Christmas festivities.


National Christmas Lights Day doesn’t have a specific, detailed historical timeline like some other holidays, as it’s a relatively modern and informal celebration. However, we can look at the evolution of Christmas lighting traditions to provide a general timeline that relates to the spirit of this day:

  1. 18th Century: The tradition of using candles to decorate Christmas trees began in Germany. Families would attach small candles to tree branches to symbolize the light of Jesus.
  2. 1882: The first electrically illuminated Christmas tree was displayed by Edward H. Johnson, an associate of Thomas Edison. He hand-wired 80 red, white, and blue bulbs and wrapped them around a Christmas tree, marking a significant step towards modern Christmas lights.
  3. 1900s: As electricity became more accessible, electric Christmas lights grew in popularity, replacing candles due to safety and convenience.
  4. 1920s-1930s: Christmas lights began to spread beyond the Christmas tree to outdoor decorations. Companies started mass-producing strings of lights, making them more accessible to the general public.
  5. 1950s-1960s: The post-war economic boom led to a surge in the popularity of outdoor Christmas decorations. Neighborhoods began to have informal competitions for the best light displays.
  6. 1980s-Present: Advancements in technology led to more elaborate displays, including animated lights, synchronized music shows, and energy-efficient LED lights.
  7. 21st Century: The trend of elaborate residential and commercial light displays continued to grow. Social media and TV shows dedicated to Christmas light displays contributed to the popularity of extravagant and creative lighting.
  8. Establishment of National Christmas Lights Day: Though the exact year of its establishment is unclear, National Christmas Lights Day was created to celebrate and encourage the tradition of decorating with Christmas lights. It’s a day when people are encouraged to put up their Christmas lights and enjoy the festive atmosphere created by these illuminations.

Each year, National Christmas Lights Day signifies the unofficial start of the holiday decorating season, with many people across the world participating in this cheerful tradition.

History of National Christmas Lights Day

The history of National Christmas Lights Day as a specific celebration is not as well-documented as that of Christmas lights themselves. This day is a relatively recent addition to the calendar of thematic days, and its origins are more in popular culture and modern traditions than in historical events.

The practice of decorating homes and public spaces with lights during the Christmas season has a rich history that dates back several centuries, evolving from candles on Christmas trees to the elaborate electric light displays we see today. Here’s a brief overview:

  1. Early Traditions (17th-18th Century): The tradition of lighting candles, which symbolized Christ as the light of the world, began in Germany and spread throughout Europe. Families would light candles and place them on Christmas trees.
  2. Electric Christmas Lights (1880s): The invention of electric Christmas lights is often credited to Edward H. Johnson, an associate of Thomas Edison, in 1882. Johnson’s Christmas tree in New York City was the first to be lit by electric lights.
  3. Commercial Availability (1900s): The first Christmas lights available for public purchase were introduced in 1903 by General Electric, but they were expensive and not widely adopted until later.
  4. Widespread Adoption (20th Century): As electricity became more accessible and affordable, electric Christmas lights gained popularity. By the mid-20th century, it was common to decorate not just the Christmas tree but also the exteriors of homes and public spaces with lights.
  5. Modern Celebrations: In recent decades, the practice of decorating with Christmas lights has become a significant aspect of holiday festivities, with communities and neighborhoods often participating in light display competitions and public viewings.

As for National Christmas Lights Day specifically, it appears to be a modern creation, likely emerging as a way to encourage the communal spirit of holiday decorating and to officially kick off the holiday season. This day serves as a reminder for people to start decorating their homes and communities, celebrating the joy and warmth brought by these festive lights.

While there isn’t a detailed historical record for National Christmas Lights Day itself, its spirit is deeply rooted in the long-standing tradition of using lights to celebrate the Christmas season.


National Christmas Lights Day is a delightful occasion to celebrate the beauty and joy of Christmas lights. Here are some activities you can consider to make the most of this day:

  1. Lighting Ceremony: Organize or attend a local lighting ceremony where the community comes together to light up a large Christmas tree or a public space with dazzling lights.
  2. Home Decorating: Embellish your home with Christmas lights. You can wrap lights around trees, line your roof, or create a light display in your garden.
  3. Neighborhood Tour: Take a walk or drive around your neighborhood to admire the Christmas light displays. Some areas may have competitions for the best-decorated house.
  4. DIY Light Crafts: Engage in a family craft session where you make your own Christmas light decorations, like light-up wreaths or mason jar light displays.
  5. Photography Challenge: Capture the beauty of Christmas lights through photography. This can be a fun way to explore creative angles and lighting effects.
  6. Lighting Display Contest: Host or participate in a lighting display contest. This can be a friendly competition among neighbors or within your community.
  7. Hot Cocoa and Lights: Combine the viewing of lights with a cozy cup of hot cocoa. You could set up a small outdoor gathering with friends and family to enjoy the lights together.
  8. Charity Drive with Lights: Organize a charity event where people can donate while enjoying a walk-through light display. It’s a way to spread joy and help those in need during the holiday season.
  9. Christmas Light Crafts Market: Visit or set up a stall at a local Christmas market, where you can sell or buy handmade light crafts and decorations.
  10. Educational Workshop: Participate in or organize a workshop about the safe installation and energy efficiency of Christmas lights. This can be both informative and practical.

Remember, the key is to enjoy the spirit of the season and the beauty of the lights in a way that brings joy to you and your community.

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