Have You Ever Wondered When We Started Decorating with Lights?

Dec 5th

Did anyone else watch The Great Christmas Light Fight last night? It always amazes me how much work these people go to, and how many lights they put out for this event.  I can honestly say, after watching it though, that I tend to want the people with the more old fashioned, gaudy displays to win because they just look so cool! I had two favorites in episode 1, the 1st contender and the 4th, and the 1st won! WOOHOO!  I cannot even imagine how big their power bill must be by the end of the Christmas season.  I set episode 2 to record and went back to it.  I wanted to see the lights but not all the hubbub around each display.  I’m very fond of the forward button.  And the ones I liked win again! This is great! 


Verse of the Day

December 5, 2017

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped…

Philippians 2:5-6

Thoughts on the Verse of the Day

Jesus did not hang on to his heavenly glory, but surrendered it to save us. Now he asks us to follow his example and share his heart. He wants us to treat each other as he has treated us, thinking of their needs and God’s will before our own. Now that’s one revolution I hope I get to see fully happen!



Christmas Traditions

Watching the Christmas light competition got me to wondering when lighting everything up for Christmas started. A lot of folks go to a lot of time and expense to string up lights and pay huge power bills for this – and I love it, don’t get me wrong – but I figured the history must be interesting, and I was right.

The tradition of chasing away the darkness with light this time of year goes back to the Yule, which was a midwinter festival celebrated by Norsemen. They had nights of big feasts, drinking Yule, which was a sacrificial beer dedicated to the Norse god Odin, and watching the fire burn the Yule log in the hearth.  This tradition spread across Europe, with many believing that the log’s flame brought about the return of the sun, while driving away evil spirits.  Christianity adapted this tradition to their teachings, with the light from the Yule log coming to represent the light of Jesus in the darkness.

There are some scientific studies that say that under the right conditions the human eye can see a candle flame from 30 miles away. Before there was electricity to light up the dark skies, people put candles in their windows, especially on long winter nights, to welcome tired travelers.  It was a beacon of hope for wanderers on those dark roads and the tiny glow showed them that there was sanctuary just ahead.  Because of this Christians came to see this as a symbol of welcome to Mary and Joseph after their long trip to Bethlehem, and as a light that represents Jesus being a light in the darkness, just as the Yule log represented His light.

This is all wonderful, but how did they get from all of that to lights on trees?

Ancient Druids and Romans decorated trees thousands of years ago, and as with many other traditions, Christians embraced this practice also. It is said that Protestant Reformer Martin Luther was the first person to put lights on a Christmas tree.  When he was walking home one night he was in awe of the brilliance of the twinkling stars through the trees that he passed.  He wanted to share this sense of awe with his family, so he put up a tree in his home and wired the branches with lit candles.  Others began to also decorate their trees in the same way, evolving to put a star on top to represent the star in the east that shone where the baby Jesus was in a manger.  The lights and ornaments came to represent the stars and planets in the sky, and many Christians put a manger at the base of the Christmas tree in honor of His birth. 

Most Americans and the British did not have decorated trees in their homes until the mid-19th century because of the pagan origins of the tradition, but it did grow in popularity, starting in 1848 in Great Britain.  The London News ran a picture of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their children gathered around their tree lit with candles in Buckingham Palace.  Once people started having trees in their homes, it became a normal practice, which spread to the United States.  Lighted Christmas trees were enthusiastically accepted, even though it meant having a bucket of sand or water nearby in case of fire and from what I’m reading, there were a LOT of fires.  The candles were beautiful on the trees, but with safety being such an issue with the combination of candle light and dry trees often ending in tragedy, insurance companies stopped paying for fires caused by them.

This problem was soon to come to and end. Thomas Edison was the first to connect lights together with wire in 1880, but he wasn’t the first to put them onto a Christmas tree.  He strung them around his laboratory as a way to advertise to gain a contract providing electricity to Manhattan.  It was his partner, Edward Johnson, who decorated his tree with electric lights in 1882, and is now called the “Father of the Electric Christmas Tree”. Surprisingly this practice didn’t catch on quickly because it was expensive and Americans were still pretty leery of electricity.  President Grover Cleveland changed all of this in 1895 when he featured the first White House Christmas tree lit up with more than 100 multi-colored bulbs, starting a craze across the country. The down side was that they needed a generator and a “wireman” to operate the lights, which at that time cost $300 (about $2000 today).  This expense meant that most Christmas trees lit with electricity were seen most often in town squares, at community functions or in the wealthy homes of high society.

In 1917 there was a tragic fire caused by Christmas tree candles. Teen-ager Albert Sadacca took the novelty lights that his family made and promoted them to be used on Christmas trees. They became the first Christmas lights that were affordable that would be sold for widespread use.  With safety issues no longer a problem, strands of lights were sold so quickly that it seemed they flew off the shelves. Sadacca formed NOMA (National Outfit Manufacturer’s Association), which became the largest holiday light manufacturer in the world.  By the 1920s lights that were developed for use outdoors hit the market, and with them, began the outdoor lightshow.  The first outdoor Christmas light display was on Santa Rosa Avenue in Altadena, CA, organized by Frederick Nash.  This tradition not only continues to this day, but has spread everywhere, which is awesome!  President Calvin Coolidge got in on the fun by lighting the very first National Christmas tree on the White House lawn on Christmas Eve in 1923.  After WWII the economy was booming, which gave people more money to spend, and spend they did, on more lights and other Christmas decorations like never before.

The lights first used as a symbol of Christmas will always be a beacon of hope and welcome, shining through the darkness of night – both physically and spiritually.



Food for Thought

Many people equate romantic love with foofoo words and flowers, but overlook the daily expressions of love shown to us by the ones with whom we share our lives. Yesterday morning I went out to my car and my wonderful hubby had scraped the ice off of my windows, heated up my car and had my seat heater turned on for me.  Now I’ll take THAT sort of romantic love over flowers that will die any day of the week.


Bathtub Party Day – With the temperature dropping outside this one sounds wonderful. Today is the day to have a little personal bathtub party!  It’s such an easy one to celebrate that I think we should all give it a go – well, for those of us with a tub.  Just fill a tub with wonderful hot water, add some bath oil beads or bubbles, and you’re ready to get in and soak all of your cares away.  The peace, quiet and serenity of a hot bath is exactly what many of us need to relax and let go of the stress of the day.   Turn off your phone, put in a quiet CD, pour a glass of wine and light some candles.  You are ready for the most relaxing minutes of your day. If you happen to have a hot tub, maybe invite some company to join you, and even have snacks on hand while you visit in the bubbling water.


Repeal Day – Today we commemorate the day the 18th amendment to the Constitution was repealed.  Once again Americans were free to buy, sell and drink alcoholic beverages.  In the 1900’s, many of the people in American thought that alcohol was the root cause of many social ills in the country.  Prohibition on a national scale was promoted in part by the American Christian Women’s Temperance Union.  As the movement grew in popularity, it pressed the United States Congress to pass the 18th amendment on January 16, 1919, which prohibited the manufacture, transportation, sale and consumption of alcohol. In spite of their best intentions, the ban on alcohol did little to improve the social conditions of the country, or to reduce crime.  Instead, crime increased as racketeers started making and selling alcohol, turning it into BIG business.  As the popularity of the 18th amendment faded, more and more people sought to repeal it.  On December 5, 1933, Congress passed the 21st Amendment, which effectively repealed the 18th Amendment.   This is a perfect example how Big Brother telling individuals what they can and cannot do, especially in their own homes, doesn’t work.  It violates our right to make our own choices.  There’s a lot of this going around lately, as our government spins out of control.  Individual groups of people mandating what others do, say, think, eat and buy.  It’s ridiculous, it’s offensive, and the fact is that it won’t work in the long run, and will only lead to more hate and more discontent.



Food Celebration of the Day

National Comfort Food Day – Although the concept has been around for ages, the term “comfort food” wasn’t officially added to the American dictionary until 1977!  We all have our favorites.  What would yours be?  I have several, depending on my mood.  The one thing that always makes me feel better when I’m bummed out though, is oatmeal cookies – from the recipe that my Grandma used to use.  There’s something about them that fills my heart with happy feelings.


Sachertorte Day – Today we celebrate a very specific type of chocolate cake, or torte, that was invented by Austrian chef Franz Sacher in 1832 for Prince Wenzel von Metternich in Vienna, Austria.  It is one of the most famous Viennese culitary specialties. There are recipes similar to the Sachertorte that appeared as early as the 18th century, with one example being in the cookbook of Conrad Hagger in 1718.  In 1832, Prince Wenzel von Metternich ordered his personal chef with creating a very special dessert for some important guests.  The chef became very ill and gave the job to his 16 year old apprentice, Franz Sacher. What a lot of responsibility!  Today’s kids of that age would go running for a “safe place” from the challenge and whine that it was too much!  OK, maybe not ALL kids, but so many of them! Sad, isn’t it?  Franz was in his 2nd year of training in Metternich’s kitchen.  The Prince declared that evening “Let there be no shame on me tonight!”  The torte is reported to have delighted the Prince’s guests, but didn’t further attention right away.  Sacher finished his training as a chef and afterward spent time in Bratislava and Budapest, coming to settle back in his hometown of Vienna, where he opened a specialty delicatessen and wine shop. Sache’s oldest son Eduard followed in his father’s culinary footsteps, completing his own culinary education, taking the time to perfect his father’s recipe and develop the torte into its current form.  The cake was first served at the Demel and later at the Hotel Sacher and remains among the most famous of Vienna’s culinary specialties.  I found this recipe for a Sachertorte as interpreted by Wolfgang Puck from www.foodnetwork.com.  May be worth giving a try since it’s a delicacy created for royalty! We all deserve to be royal from time to time, right?

I anticipate another evening of watching hubby paint the kitchen (3rd coat should do the trick! – and before you say anything I offered to help! I’d just be in his way.) and Wednesday I can put my kitchen back together! WOOHOO!  May your Tuesday be wonderful! God bless you and I’ll see you tomorrow.

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