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


By: Staff

6 Min Quiz

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.

President Calvin Coolidge hit the lights on the first national Christmas tree on the White House lawn in 1923.


Who invented electric Christmas lights?

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.


Before electric Christmas lights, how did people illuminate their Christmas trees?

Candles were a dangerous way to decorate and caused many house fires during the Christmas season.


Which type of light bulb is cheapest to use for decorating?

They may cost more to buy, but LED lights are brighter and cheaper to use than regular Christmas bulbs.


What company was the first to offer electric Christmas lights to the public?

General Electric was the first company to sell Christmas lights to the public in 1903.


What is an inflatable?

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.


True or false: The bigger the light bulb, the less power it uses.

Mini lights actually use less power and are more energy efficient than larger bulbs.


What is a blow mold?

Blow molds are plastic holiday decorations that light up and are popular items in outdoor Christmas displays.


Which U.S. president was the first to adorn the White House Christmas tree with electric bulbs?

In 1895, President Grover Cleveland wanted an electric Christmas display, so the White House Christmas tree was adorned with hundreds of multicolored bulbs.


A Christmas light contest is typically held between ___.

A Christmas light contest can be as small as a competition between a few neighbors or as large as a town-wide celebration.


Before the advent of Christmas lights, how long did families display their Christmas trees?

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.


In 1900, about how much did a single strand of Christmas lights cost (in 2017 dollars)?

Only the very wealthy could afford the first Christmas lights. Adjusting for inflation, a single strand cost about $300.


Old-fashioned bubble lights feature a glass stem filled with a liquid that bubbles when heated. What is the liquid?

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.


Many Christmas lights are wired in a "series," so if one bulb does out, what happens?

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.


The first Christmas lights used which technology?

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).


If your Christmas lights stop working, what's the first thing you should do?

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.


The tradition of lighting a yule log was a forerunner to Christmas lights. Why did people fire up the yule log?

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.


In 1894, the White House tree featured electric bulbs for the first time. Why didn't most Americans follow suit at home?

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.


In long strings of Christmas lights, why do the bulbs sometimes go out in sections?

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.


In 1963, the "Black Christmas" occurred in North Carolina. What happened?

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.


On average, about how long do incandescent Christmas light strands last?

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.


Edward Hibberd Johnson unveiled the very first Christmas lights in 1882. The lights were red, white and ____.

Johnson's first set of lights had a patriotic gleam. They were red, white…and blue.


Many boxes of mini Christmas lights come with a single red-tipped bulb. What's the purpose of that bulb?

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.


How does the red-tipped mini bulb make your Christmas lights blink?

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.


What's one major advantage of using LED Christmas lights over old-school incandescent lights?

LED lights are more efficient than incandescent bulbs. They cost less to power, and they put off less heat, too.


Americans buy about _____ strands of lights each year.

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.


In 1903, General Electric sold strands of lights for $12, which was far too expensive for most Americans. So what did some families do?

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.


In America, during December, what percentage of electricity goes to power Christmas lights?

Americans love twinkling lights. About 80 million homes display Christmas lights, consuming perhaps 6% of the nation's electricity in December.


Edward Hibberd Johnson put the very first Christmas lights on an evergreen tree. What else was notable about the tree?

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.


Which of the following Christmas light bulbs is the LARGEST?

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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