Christmas decorations in Warsaw, Poland, for Christmas Day
© David Milsen/Alam
Merry and bright
Germans began decorating Christmas trees with candles as far back as the 1700s, but people wouldn't begin stringing trees with electric lights until the late 1800s. US inventor Thomas Edison created the first practical incandescent lights and used them to decorate his laboratory in 1880. Three years later, the vice president of Edison's company, Edward H Johnson, had Christmas tree bulbs especially made for the Christmas tree in his New York City home.
The term ‘fairy lights’ commonly used in the UK is linked to their first appearance here at the opening night of the comic opera Iolanthe at London’s Savoy Theatre in 1882, when the show’s fairies wore battery-powered star lights in their hair. Today, scenes like this one in Warsaw, Poland wouldn't be complete without fairy lights. If you're celebrating Christmas today, we wish you a merry one.