Lighting the Christmas Tree

Using small candles to light up the Christmas tree dates back to the middle of the XVIIth century. The custom was only really firmly established, however, at the beginning of the XIXth century in Germany and soon after in the Slavic countries of Eastern Europe.
The first candles were glued with wax or pinned to the end of the tree branches. Little lanterns and small candleholders then appeared to make putting up the tapers easier. Candleholders with clips appeared around 1890. Glass balls and lanterns were created between 1902 and 1914.

The first time a Christmas tree was lit by electricity was in 1882 in New York. Edward Johnson, a colleague of Thomas Edison, lit a Christmas tree with a string of 80 small electric light bulbs which he had made himself. These strings of light began to be produced around 1890. One of the first electrically lit Christmas trees was erected in Westmount, Quebec in 1896. In 1900, some large stores put up large illuminated trees to attract customers.

Once begun, the custom spread in Canada wherever electricity came to towns and the countryside. Because of the risk of fire, trees were not usually put up until December 24. This technical innovation altered the custom since it was now possible to put the tree up earlier and leave it up longer, until the day before Epiphany.