Putting candles on Christmas trees is a fire hazard. But people did it anyway before the invention of electric Christmas lights. Instead of leaving the lights on for hours, families would gather and light the candles on the tree. They would look at them for a minute or two and then blow them out, making for a beautiful, but short-lived, tradition.

This practice was often dangerous and led to many home fires. Edward H. Johnson put the very first string of electric Christmas tree lights together in 1882. Johnson, Edison’s friend, and partner in Edison’s Illumination Company hand-wired 80 red, white, and blue light bulbs and wound them around his Christmas tree. Not only was the tree illuminated with electricity, but it also revolved.

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