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The Humble Christmas Light

The Switch-On is a relatively new tradition, but something that has grown to be a central part of Christmas preparations across the length and breadth of the country. This Saturday it’s time for our own Switch-On here in our festive market town of Settle.This tradition got us a’thinking where did it all begin (...meaning the Christmas switch-on, not life)?

Well you can’t go much further back than the invention of the electric light-bulb. This guy was a serious game changer, as the lighting up of your Christmas tree before that came with some risks attached. What were actually attached, were candles(!) Families would sit around their Christmas tree and light the candles with buckets of sand at the ready just in case it caught alight and brought the house down, and not in the good way. This and this alone (maybe) drew out the invention of the electric light-bulb by Thomas Edison in 1880 and Christmas trees everywhere took a big sigh of relief.

However, all was not so simple, only the richest and fanciest could even afford a lightbulb let alone a personal home generator to power it. One such rich and fancy individual was Edward H. Johnson, Eddie to his friends, who in 1882 displayed the first electrically illuminated Christmas tree at his home in Manhattan.   

Still, it wasn’t until the mid-1920’s and 30’s that the Christmas light really got a shot in the arm with the development of the National Grid. This made domestic electrical usage much more common place and the Christmas light saw its first bit of mass production meaning the items were much more affordable. From this point on the only way was up for the humble Christmas light and now Christmas lights are the centre point of the Christmas festivities and just to prove it here are some pictures of some really ace ones.




































The Settle Switch-On Kicks-off from 10am Saturday 28th