Among all the occasions and seasons being celebrated worldwide, perhaps the one that stands out to have the widest and longest preparation, celebration, and observance is Christmas. This Christian holiday invites reverence to the coming to the world of a God-sent, Child-Redeemer named Jesus Christ, the central figure in the faith of more than 2.5 billion Christians around the world.
Icons of Reverence
A number of symbols of observance rise up every Christmas season to proclaim the Child’s birth: a newborn baby, a manger, a brilliant star, the three wise kings, the family as a social unit, gift-giving, the Christmas tree, Christmas lights, and many other icons of remembrance that also provide significance to the occasion.
Perhaps because of its effects on the senses, Christmas lights have assumed a large and prime spot in the preparations leading to Christmas Day.
No Christmas With No Lights
It is unimaginable not to have lights during Christmas. The lights that adorn homes and the surroundings today evolved from the ancient bright Star of Bethlehem that guided the three wise kings and the shepherds to Jesus at the time of his birth. That light has transformed into the torches, candles, and colored electrical lights that we see today. Indeed, lights have remained the perfect symbolism for the clear path to holiness taken by the faithful as they followed Jesus’ words and works.
The twinkling LED Christmas lights that are now in vogue have outgrown the old standard Christmas lights made of small light bulbs stringed together to form arrays of blinking colors swinging on twigs of trees. These stringed bulbs took the place of candles, which used to be the regulated lighting devices used in Christmas trees, in altars, and in places of worship.
The First Lighted Christmas Tree
The practice of putting up a flood of small lights together in one location, as in a Christmas tree, around a big star, or at the windows, caught merrymakers’ fancy sometime in 1882. It was reported that Edward Johnson, a friend of Thomas Edison, put up a rotating electrically-adorned Christmas tree in his house and invited friends to view his creative work.
This lighted Christmas tree story was carried by the New York Times and since then, stringed lights – twinkling lights of various colors and sizes – began to lend dazzling appearance to Christmas decorations.
As more new items were added to the repertoire of Christmas decorations, decorating practices have evolved from the lighted artificial Christmas tree to multicolored bells to mistletoes to gifts.
Lighting Up Whole Houses
In some parts of the world, as in the Philippines (a predominantly Roman Catholic country), lighting preparations have expanded in scope and time – from setting up a small Christmas tree with a bright blinking star at the top to adorning whole houses including gardens and trees in the yard. Only a few homeowners have adopted this practice of lighting almost every inch of their residential structure both inside and outside, making their fully-decorated houses a marvelous spectacle for guests and passersby to behold as darkness sets in and the lights are put on.
Lighting as Clue to Personality
Psychologists have attached some significance to these lighting practices, observing that the way one lights his or her house during Christmas provides a clue to his or her psychosocial makeup. They concede that how you choose and arrange your Christmas lights define your personality.
For example, the practice of lighting up your whole house, your garden, and everything else that your stringed blinking lights can demonstrate your positive feelings about the season. It may also be an act of showing off how well you are economically and may be an act of expressing your feeling of superiority over some people who might pose a threat – as is often the case in some TV Christmas specials.
It is also possible that you timed the opening of a grand Christmas sale of cheap decorative lights with the release of your 14th-month pay. It’s your chance to stage that lighting spectacle!
In essence, psychologists affirm that lights, as well as colors, have a strong influence on the moods of people: low mood when the lighting is much too dark, and high when the lighting is just right.
Christmas in September?
And don’t be surprised if you hear Christmas carols being aired as early as the first -ber month! Even Christmas lights start to sprout at the onset of September, a practice which British psychologist Steve McKeown describes as “triggered by happy memories of childhood.” Writer Tim Collins of the Daily Mail suggests that people “may want to relive the magic of youth, so to speak, or cover a present state of discomfort.”
Pathways to Jesus
But for whatever other reasons you are scattering brilliance around your place, it is evident that behind the pride and extreme happiness that you feel as you watch people enjoy themselves taking mementos of your house of lights, you know deep in your heart that the lights are pathways leading to a life of holiness that Jesus has promised for each one of us.