Our 1950s Christmas tree lights

December 09, 2013

Do you already have your Christmas tree standing, all festive? As you probably already have seen; we have! A real one and my do I love it! That smell is so enthralling; I love to wake up early in the morning when it's still dark outside and smell the delicious aroma of the pinetree and light the Christmas tree ... that is ... if the lights work!

If one light burns out ... no light will burn.
We have re-created a 1930s Christmas tree with antique balls, tinsel, selfmade and glass garlands and candles. And the tree is certainly not finished yet. We still have to visit the museum I mentioned in a previous post. But anyway ... we did cheated a bit with the Christmas lights. Because I don't want our house to burn down to the ashes I decided that the wax candles ( real old ones, just as their holders ) would do lovely just as a decoration in recreating a 1930s Christmas tree - and they réally do their job, believe me - but that I do want to have a string of electric lights in the Christmas tree to have sómething magical to lit everyday. But they are from - somewhere near - 1953. Also inherited. The second day when we had our tree standing, majestically, I was enthusiastically galloping to the tree ( as you do ) to put the plug in the plug-socket and then the moment came when I was ready to coo some oohs and aahs ... nnnnnnnothing happened. Weird! Cause Ben had tested them just before we decorated the tree with it and had them even burning when we had the tree finished.

The problem with lights as old as the ones we use, is that it's a one-wire connection. That means if one light burns out, no light will burn. Luckily it was just a matter of tightening the bulbs again and soon they were all burning again and our house was magically lit. We don't have an enormous string of lights so it's not a major undertaking in finding the bad light.

A candle-lit window expressed the Christmas spirit
Now, until the 20th century there were no electric lights ofcourse, so to lit a Christmas tree, candles were the only option. This meant, though, that litting a Christmas tree was a special occassion and was done for a relatively short time. There was always some serious danger of fire. Yeah we experienced that; for just a couple of seconds we had ours burning for the photo and one branch caught fire. Not seriously, thank heavens!

We are not cheating too much with having lights in our tree, cause electric Christmas lights first appeared in the 1930s. They were just not that common - until after the second World War. Illuminating the Christmas tree started mostly on Christmas eve and people lit the lights for just an hour or so and it was re-illuminated when visitors came or if the whole family was sitting around the Christmas tree in the evening. Lights became a symbol of Christmas because of a strange star that shone on Bethlehem whilst sheperds watched their flocks by night almost 2,000 years ago.

For generations and generations a candle-lit window expressed the Christmas spirit for many of the people. But in the 1930s, windows were draped with flammable decoration and these carried an element of danger. Electric lights took away that danger and eversince we are enlighted by the sight of the yellow, green, blue and red lights that make the streets appear much more sprightly. Blue lights are favorite amongst people, especially displayed against the green of the tree; it carries the suggestion of stars in a midnight sky.

The one thing I never bring home from the 1930s habits, is illuminating the tree for just a short period of time. No. I burn it from morning 'till bedtime from the 7th of december all the way up to January. Christmas comes but once a year and one might aswell enjoy it to full extend when it's finally there. 

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  1. Your Christmas tree is completely beautiful, I love it. It looks so fantastic and it must bring so much Christmas spirit into your home. Glad the lights got working again!

  2. So classically lovely! I've always been a fan of larger sized lights on Christmas trees.

    Big hugs,
    ♥ Jessica

  3. We do an old fashioned tree too. Antique glass and crystal inherited from both our grandparents, homemade ornaments from our girls,tinsel icecycles which I. Crazy about getting right amount , some antique glass and crystal icecycles I found at antique mall. 1 benefit of a small, southern,tourist town, lots of antique malls and stores and flea markets, great to find my clothes and a lot of nice vintage handbags. We do big lights too, reproductions , for safety, they hadn't always been stored well before they came to us, but my husband bought the repro's, he and girls wanted color, I wasn't so sure, but I went along and I loved it. Everyone whose seen it this year, a lot of people,(with owning dance school I have receptions at house after recitals and husband being a dr requires a lot of entertaining)but all seemed to love it, many said they wanted big lights next year, and best of all , a lot said it reminded them of trees when they were kids


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