Light 'Em Up for the Holidays: Illuminate us with your knowledge of Christmas lights!

Estimated Completion Time
4 min
Light 'Em Up for the Holidays: Illuminate us with your knowledge of Christmas lights!
Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

Most everyone looks forward to seeing the colorful sparkle of Christmas lights at the end of every year. But how much do you really know about these seasonal displays? Find out by taking this quiz.
True or false: President Abraham Lincoln started the tradition of the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.
True
False
President Calvin Coolidge hit the lights on the first national Christmas tree on the White House lawn in 1923.
The United States doesn't have a national Christmas tree.

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Who invented electric Christmas lights?
Benjamin Franklin
Alexander Graham Bell
Thomas Edison
In the Christmas season of 1880, Thomas Edison strung lights around his Menlo Park laboratory, which were the first electric Christmas lights ever put on display.

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Before electric Christmas lights, how did people illuminate their Christmas trees?
With bonfires in the background
With candles
Candles were a dangerous way to decorate and caused many house fires during the Christmas season.
With imagination

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Which type of light bulb is cheapest to use for decorating?
LED
They may cost more to buy, but LED lights are brighter and cheaper to use than regular Christmas bulbs.
Incandescent
Neon

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What company was the first to offer electric Christmas lights to the public?
Edison Electric
General Electric
General Electric was the first company to sell Christmas lights to the public in 1903.
Brite Star

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What is an inflatable?
A live Christmas tree decorated with balloons
A nylon, air-filled decoration that's powered by a fan
Inflatables -- nylon air-filled decorations that are powered by electric fans -- come in all sorts of characters and sizes. Inflatables aren't Christmas lights, but they often appear alongside elaborate light displays during the holiday season.
A furry's disgruntled cousin

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True or false: The bigger the light bulb, the less power it uses.
True
False
Mini lights actually use less power and are more energy efficient than larger bulbs.
Light bulbs only come in one size

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What is a blow mold?
A Christmas lollipop
A molded plastic Christmas decoration that lights up
Blow molds are plastic holiday decorations that light up and are popular items in outdoor Christmas displays.
A tool for making a Christmas gelatin salad

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Which U.S. president was the first to adorn the White House Christmas tree with electric bulbs?
Grover Cleveland
In 1895, President Grover Cleveland wanted an electric Christmas display, so the White House Christmas tree was adorned with hundreds of multicolored bulbs.
Herbert Hoover
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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A Christmas light contest is typically held between ___.
A couple of neighbors
An entire town or community
Both of the above
A Christmas light contest can be as small as a competition between a few neighbors or as large as a town-wide celebration.

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Before the advent of Christmas lights, how long did families display their Christmas trees?
Just a few seconds
Just a few days
When candles were the decoration of choice, Christmas trees were a hazardous luxury. Families displayed them for just a few days and then discarded them, lest they become a terrible fire hazard.
All year long

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In 1900, about how much did a single strand of Christmas lights cost (in 2017 dollars)?
Around $5
Around $50
Around $300
Only the very wealthy could afford the first Christmas lights. Adjusting for inflation, a single strand cost about $300.

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Old-fashioned bubble lights feature a glass stem filled with a liquid that bubbles when heated. What is the liquid?
Water
Elf saliva
Methylene chloride
Bubble lights are filled with methylene chloride, a toxic solvent that may cause cancer. The chemical is so toxic that if one of the lights break, you should evacuate the area.

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Many Christmas lights are wired in a "series," so if one bulb does out, what happens?
The rest of the lights explode
The other lights go out
Many strands of lights rely on each light to complete the circuit. So if one bulb goes out, the rest of the lights do, too.
You immediately throw all of the lights into the trash

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The first Christmas lights used which technology?
LED
Solar
Incandescent
The first Christmas lights relied on incandescent light bulbs, the kind invented by Thomas Edison. For nearly a century, this technology dominated Christmas lights (and other electric lighting appliances, too).

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If your Christmas lights stop working, what's the first thing you should do?
Cut the wire with metal scissors
Throw them away
Check the fuse
Many lights come with a built-in fuse near (or in) the plug. Unplug the set and open the fuse compartment to see if the fuse is blown.

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The tradition of lighting a yule log was a forerunner to Christmas lights. Why did people fire up the yule log?
To roast marshmallows
To burn witches
To tell the sun to come back for spring
Before electricity, winters were even longer, and colder, and darker than they are now. In olden times, some groups would light a yule log at night, a way of beckoning (begging?) to the sun to return for the warmer, brighter season of spring.

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In 1894, the White House tree featured electric bulbs for the first time. Why didn't most Americans follow suit at home?
They didn't have electricity
Sure, the bigwigs of 1894 -- like Grover Cleveland -- had access to the magic of electricity…but hardly anyone else did. So the rest of America made do with candles, risking their lives for a bit of holiday cheer.
They despised the president
They thought electric Christmas lights were witchcraft

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In long strings of Christmas lights, why do the bulbs sometimes go out in sections?
They have more than one circuit
Longer strands of lights often have multiple circuits in parallel. So it's possible for one section to go out, while another section is still lit, making your house look like the tackiest home on the block.
Someone at the factory screwed up
They are a psychological test meant to drive you insane

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In 1963, the "Black Christmas" occurred in North Carolina. What happened?
A Civil Rights boycott
In 1963, African Americans were incensed that no one would hire them as employees at businesses in downtown Greenville, NC. So they staged a major boycott, primarily refusing to buy Christmas lights.
A massive power outage
Demons took over the entire state

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On average, about how long do incandescent Christmas light strands last?
About two years
Incandescent Christmas lights endure a beating in the outdoors, hammered by ultraviolet light and perhaps white-out blizzards. If you get three years out of them, you're doing well.
About 28 years
About 18 years

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Edward Hibberd Johnson unveiled the very first Christmas lights in 1882. The lights were red, white and ____.
Blue
Johnson's first set of lights had a patriotic gleam. They were red, white…and blue.
Violet
Yellow

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Many boxes of mini Christmas lights come with a single red-tipped bulb. What's the purpose of that bulb?
To confuse predators
To make the lights blink
The little red-tipped light is an added feature. If you want your lights to blink, you simply swap out a normal bulb and insert the red-tipped version.
To ward off solicitation

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How does the red-tipped mini bulb make your Christmas lights blink?
It has little elves inside
It is activated by temperature
The red-tipped blinker bulb is equipped with a temperature-sensitive circuit. When it warms up, it suddenly breaks the circuit. Then it cools off, and the circuit engages again. The effect? Blinking.
It is computer-controlled

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What's one major advantage of using LED Christmas lights over old-school incandescent lights?
They feature more colors
They burn hotter
They are more efficient
LED lights are more efficient than incandescent bulbs. They cost less to power, and they put off less heat, too.

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Americans buy about _____ strands of lights each year.
90,000
500,000
150 million
Americans are crazy about Christmas lights. Each year, they unbox last year's lights, realize they don't work, and head out to buy more…to the tune of about 150 million strands.

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In 1903, General Electric sold strands of lights for $12, which was far too expensive for most Americans. So what did some families do?
They stole lights from other families
They rented Christmas lights
Very few people could afford $12 for Christmas lights in the early 1900s. The solution? Some families would simply rent the lights (for less than $2), which meant they'd still have cash for a Christmas ham.
They sat in the dark and sobbed

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In America, during December, what percentage of electricity goes to power Christmas lights?
About 6%
Americans love twinkling lights. About 80 million homes display Christmas lights, consuming perhaps 6% of the nation's electricity in December.
About 60%
About 86%

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Edward Hibberd Johnson put the very first Christmas lights on an evergreen tree. What else was notable about the tree?
It immediately broke out into flames
It could speak
It had a rotating base
The first Christmas tree with electric lights was especially amazing. Not only did it feature lights, but it rotated on a motorized base, too. Then, the tree came to life and displayed homicidal urges, attempting to strangle passersby... and we probably made up that last part.

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Which of the following Christmas light bulbs is the LARGEST?
Mini
C-7
C-9
Mini bulbs are little lights that are the most common. C-9 bulbs are the really large bulbs, the biggest bulb that you can commonly buy at a big-box store.

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