, In 1973 during an oil shortage triggered by an embargo by the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (later OPEC) President Nixon asked Americans not to put up Christmas lights to conserve energy use. You can even use smart lights — making it all the easier to sync your colorful displays to festive holiday music. Before electric Christmas lights, families would use candles to light up their Christmas trees. The Christmas trees were brought by Christians into their homes in early modern Germany. Communities published the routes of well-known neighborhoods with the most opulent displays. We may earn commission if you buy from a link. Nothing illustrates this better than National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, when Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) turns his house in a mess of extension cords in his insane quest for the perfect 250-strand display. By the mid-20th century, it became customary to display strings of electric lights along streets and on buildings; Christmas decorations detached from the Christmas tree itself. By 1966, the NOMA Electric Company filed for bankruptcy. The price dropped to under $2 by 1914, Brian Murray writes in “Christmas Lights and Community Building in America.” General Electric tried and failed to get a patent for its pre-wired sockets, or festoons, according to Old Christmas Tree Lights, and so the company suddenly had competition, helping drive down the price. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Condé Nast. Many residents expend great effort to have the best light display in the town. Annually more than 20 million pounds of discarded holiday lights are shipped to Shijiao, China (near Guangzhou), which has been referred to as "the world capital for recycling Christmas lights". Some credit President Grover Cleveland with spurring the acceptance of indoor electric Christmas lights. Fairy lights), through to full blown animated tableaux, involving complex illuminated animatronics and statues. Outdoor electric lighting. The clock tower of Kozani; a landmark of the city. In Pakistan, fairy lights are often used to decorate in celebration of Eid ul-Fitr at Chaand Raat, which occurs at the end of Ramadan. Since the late 20th century, increasingly elaborate Christmas lights have been displayed, and driving around between 8 and 10 p.m. to view the lights has become a popular form of family entertainment. These above light strings are occasionally used on Christmas trees anyway, usually to add extra variety to the colors of the lights on the tree. The wiring of electric lights was very expensive and required the hiring of the services of a wireman, our modern-day electrician.