Photo Courtesy Silver Dollar City
Christmas in the USA is a combination of traditions from around the world.
Evergreen trees inside homes were popularized in Germany during the 16th century. Decorating with poinsettias? That idea came from Mexico (and the name of the plant came from Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first US minister to Mexico). And 18th-century England helped to change mistletoe’s image from a poisonous plant to a poisonous plant that’s also a festive kissing trap.
However, there’s one favorite tradition with an All-American origin: electric Christmas tree lights.
It started when Edward H. Johnson, a friend and business partner of Thomas Edison, put a string of 80 hand-wired red, white and blue electric lights on a Christmas tree in 1882.
Since the majority of Americans didn’t have access to electric power until the 1930s, it took about 50 years for Johnson’s creation to become popular.
Since then, it’s become an essential part of American Christmas celebrations, whether that means a couple of strings of “tasteful” white lights around the family tree or a pulsating public display synchronized to “Jingle Bell Rock” that can be seen from low orbit.
With a nod to Mr. Johnson’s first tree, here are seven of the best destinations in the United States where the electric light tradition continues to shine brightly (check websites for dates and times the displays are open).
For the full story and the seven best destinations for Christmas lights, visit CNN.com/Travel.
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