|Christmas tree lights add to the celebratory spirit of the season.|
If there’s one certainty about the Christmas season, it’s that we’re going to see lots and lots of lights. Lights on Christmas trees. Lights on poles along streets and roadsides. Lights on houses. Neighborhoods and communities even stage competitions to see who can design the most innovative, elaborate light displays – sometimes synchronized with accompanying music.
We see lights inside blow-up snowmen and reindeer. Candles in windows. Lights everywhere we look in the malls. Sometimes even Santa Claus can be spotted with lights dangling from his outfit.
I’m a big fan of these lights. In our home we have two lighted trees, one large and one small, along with the lights from inside our Dickens Village collection of miniature houses. Bright, warm, cozy-looking. Almost enough to encourage me to engage in some light humor.
With the Tennessee River running through town, Chattanooga residents conduct an annual Festival of Lights in which boaters decorate their crafts with lights – a water parade with floats literally afloat.
|From ornaments to miniature lighted houses,|
festive holiday decorations illuminate many homes.
My online research friend, Mr. Google, tells me the tradition of lighting Christmas trees dates back to 18th century Germany, using candles. Sometimes with sad consequences. (That might have been the origin of the phrase, "Don't try this at home.")
Thomas Edison used his incandescent light bulbs to provide Christmas illumination around 1880, and the Savoy Theatre in London became the first building in the world to be fully lighted for the holiday with electricity.
A couple of years later one of Edison’s associates, Edward Johnson, prepared the first electrically illuminated Christmas tree. There’s no truth to the rumor, however, that Debby Boone used that occasion to sing “You Light Up My Life” for the first time.
The point is, people have been lighting up things during the Christmas season for centuries. While the original motivation seems unclear, it likely has a practical basis, related to the fact December in many parts of the world has the shortest days and the darkest nights. That’s enough reason to load up on festive lights.
But there’s a more profound reason for making lights central to the celebration of Christmas. In Isaiah 9:2 it states, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” Then in Matthew 2:2, the Magi who had journeyed a long distance in search of the promised Messiah asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”
Later, speaking to the multitude of people that were following him, Jesus declared, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).