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Christmas lights

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A decorated avenue from Madrid(A decorated avenue from Madrid, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Alumbrado_navide%C3%B1o_en_Madrid_%282007%29.jpg)

Christmas lights are lights installed outside during the Christmas period, and more generally for the period of the holiday season. These Christmas decorations can be placed on buildings, trees, or through the streets, mainly in the countries of Christian culture and growing in non-Christian countries.

These lights can be installed by individuals, on the front of their homes, their balconies, in their garden, or by communities, specifically the municipalities, sometimes in cooperation with the traders of the city.

At the scale of a country or the world, the illuminations are a significant source of power consumption. In recent years, incandescent light bulbs are replaced with LED bulbs, less energy consumers and last longer, allowing municipalities to achieve significant savings while remaining illuminated.


The first fairy lights was developed by Edward Hibberd Johnson, close to Thomas Edison in 1882.

Decorations made by an individual in California(Decorations made by an individual in California, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Christmas_in_Dublin,_CA.jpg)

With the globalization of cultural exchanges and the secularization of society, the festivities related to Christmas are gradually taking a profane and familial character and are becoming increasingly disconnected from religious interpretation. This is in conjunction with this change in modern society emerged in the 1960s, when the Christmas lights have emerged.

During the communist period, the Christmas party, and thus religious Christian celebration, is simply banned by the regime. Banned in the USSR as part of the anti-religious state policy, the Christmas tree is again authorized by Joseph Stalin in 1934, but provided it is now prepared to celebrate the New Year. The Orthodox Christmas is again authorized in 1991. After the fall of the Soviet bloc, the Christmas party is growing again, giving rise to some unusual observations.

Reindeers and Santa's sleigh Gänserndorf in Austria(Reindeers and Santa’s sleigh Gänserndorf in Austria, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gaenserndorf_weihnachten_2008_1.jpg)

Initially confined to communities, Christmas illuminations are growing democratizing power, so much that since 2000 some individuals rival the municipal decorations.

Christmas illuminations are generally installed in accordance with the municipal decisions and technical services of the city council, but the installation of decorations can also be blown through the opinions of the traders, who can ask the city lights installation in a specific sector in the exchange of a financial contribution. In Paris, for many years, some organizations installed themselves their decorations, which by their size and the creation around them have as much impact as municipal illuminations.

Cultural concept

The stars used as mere decorations, here in Dresden(The stars used as mere decorations, here in Dresden, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Herrnhuter_Sterne.jpg)

Judging continuous innovation in new ornaments, the comparation with Christmas party itself seems to be fading. The reasons are directly related to the elements of the Christian feast losing ground, especially in dechristianized countries, or non-Christian countries (particularly East Asia). However, this impression seems rather to be observed for municipal illuminations of secularized civilizations, probably in order to separate the best religious allusions and festive spirit. It is thus noted that the specifically religious symbols (angels, for example) are often excluded from the illuminations in the streets, and that other less obvious symbols (stars, for example) are stripped of their religious significance.

In the US, the Christmas party keeps a social connotation very imprint of religion. Celebrations and illuminations are very present in American society.

Tourism impact

The Christmas tree in Strasbourg during the Christkindelsmärik(The Christmas tree in Strasbourg during the Christkindelsmärik, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Strasbourg_capitale_de_No%C3%ABl_grand_sapin_2015.jpg)

In large cities, as in small villages, the establishment of annual decorations and highlighting are often expected. Faced with this growing popularity, which also results in the reproduction of these facilities at the individual level, municipalities are trying to integrate their facilities to a real festive program, usually characterized by preexisting Christmas market (as Christkindelsmärik Strasbourg) or not. Some individuals, taking advantage of the crowds incited by installations, couple the tour of their property by a charity.

The establishment of the decorations is often at the heart of Christmas entertainment programming.

In Paris, the lighting of wreaths from the Avenue des Champs Elysées is annually subject to a formal and solemn ceremony, during which a person is invited by the mayor to press a button by starting power and allowing the illumination of the avenue of trees.



Installation of lighting decorations for cities requires an important organization and mobilization of municipal services usually in the month of October.


The purchase and installation of electrical decorations are a significant budget for municipalities, especially as LED lighting remain in the 20-30% more expensive than conventional lights, and even if the arrival of new products in a row including the diversification of supply appears to reduce the cost of decorations.

Some municipalities are choosing to focus on local manufacturing.

Financial and energy savings

The decorations of the Champs-Elysées(The decorations of the Champs-Elysées until 2006, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Champs_Elysees_Grande_Roue_p1040797.jpg)

Since the early 2000s, environmental awareness has also won on the Christmas illuminations. In trade, the garlands emitting diode (LED), much less intensive electricity and more resistant than conventional bulbs, gradually replacing the old traditional garlands.


Each year, there are voices against the establishment of illuminations. Most critics are financial. But increasingly, critics highlight the waste of energy which they claim would fall to the facilities. That is why municipalities have been working for several years to replace old, wasteful installations, with new bulbs or new stronger garlands, more efficient.

Greenpeace attempts to denounce the waste according to the association, which are made by municipalities that encourage illumination contests.

More global problem, some also criticize light pollution that emanate from these decorations, and that is why sometimes requested extinction of illuminations to the least busy hours, generally after midnight and before 6am.

Translated from wikipedia.org

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