“I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God, I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me.”
Country Focus: Germany
Tradition: Christmas Lights
Activity: Neighborhood walk
Directions: Walk around your neighborhood and view your neighbors' Christmas lights displays. Choose the "best" house and give them a prize.
During Medieval times, Christians starting lighting special candles during Christmas. The candles symbolized Jesus' roles as Light of the World. There were many traditions involving candles including the advent wreath, lighting the Christmas tree, and putting candles in the window to welcome travelers. In 1747, Pastor John of Germany started the tradition of Christingle. Christingle is putting a candle in an orange and decorating it with a red ribbon.
Many people starting putting candles along their walk in hurricane lamps or bags with sand to hold them in place. All of these different decorations with candles were obviously dangerous. But it was the invention of the lightbulb by Thomas Edison that changed everything. Edward Hibberd Johnson, a business associate of Edison, took the lightbulb invention and had miniatures made in red, white and blue for his Christmas tree. He proudly displayed his tree in the window of his Fifth Avenue home in New York City in 1882. Although local papers ignored it as a publicity stunt for the Edison Electric Light Company, a Detroit newspaper reporter published the story. Johnson became known as the "Father of Electric Christmas Tree Lights." To think that it all started with Martin Luther's candles!
In 1895, Grover Cleveland became the first president to have an electrically lit Christmas tree in the White House. After that, the tradition grew with passion in the United States, but still only indoors. In 1931, the Rockfeller Center Christmas tree was "lit" (not with real electric lights, that wasn't until 1956). Finally in 1956, when Disney started decorating outdoors with electric lights, a new tradition was born!
My kids and I pick the house that we think is decorated the best. Then we print a certificate on the computer that says, "Voted the Best Christmas House in the Neighborhood". We also give them a plate of cookies. The reason we call it "The Christmas House" is because when the boys were toddlers they always used to ask if we could have a "Christmas House". When I told them that our house was decorated for Christmas they told me it wasn't because we had white lights and not colored lights. Every time we would pass by a house with colored lights, they would point it out and say, "There's a Christmas House mama! I want a Christmas House!"
Have fun picking out your favorite "Christmas House"! It's a great way to spread good cheer in your neighborhood.