The “Twelve Days of Christmas” tree showcases, among other things, a partridge in a pear tree. “Long before there was Christianity, there were celebrations of light during the darkest days of the year,” says Stephen Nissenbaum, a University of Massachusetts history professor. “The idea of lights has more to do with the winter solstice than with Christmas.”
Germany (and eventually, southeastern England) tried to summon the seemingly lost light by burning a slab of wood that they called a yule log. Later, they decorated a living log — that is, a tree — with lit candles. Though this tradition was dangerous (some of the trees undoubtedly caught fire), the tradition continued, as the lit-up yule log became the elaborately decorated Christmas tree.
So why do we get so involved in holiday lighting today? Could it be religious celebration? Annoying the neighbors? Our rebellious and artistic side, standing up for free expression? Perhaps bringing out warmth and light to cold winter nights. Or simply because we just like to light up our neighborhoods with the spirit of Christmas. Whatever the reason, everyone seems to enjoy the season of lights.
With Christmas comes all the bliss and rush of the season. The last thing you want to worry about is digging those old Christmas lights out of the basement and untangling those burned out strands that you finally got around to taking down last April. Here are some tips for holiday lighting to keep your holidays enjoyable:
• Ladders should be in good operating condition, always placed on even ground with a safe climbing angle, avoiding ice or other hazards.
• Extension cords should be clear of walks and areas where snow may cover them and be cut by shovels.
• Make sure lights and wires are designated for outdoor use.
• Examine wires for frayed insulation or worn components. Repair, discard or replace light sets as necessary.
• Avoid stapling guns. Instead, hang light strings from plastic or metal hooks.
• Keep connectors out of water puddles and snow.
• Guard against overloading outlets and extension cords. Never use indoor extension cords for yard projects.
• Replace burned out bulbs with equally rated outdoor light bulbs.
• Turn off your holiday lights if you are away from home.
• After the holidays, store outdoor light sets to avoid harm to bulbs, wires and connectors.
BY KEITH ROSSER AND SCOTT BERGEN, FIREFIGHTERS OF PROVO CITY FIRE DEPT. AND OWNERS OF BRITE IDEAS OF UTAH.
If your family enjoys a winter’s evening drive to see holiday lights, here are a few sure bets.
HOLIDAY LIGHT AT THANKSGIVING POINT
A family tradition is starting this year at Thanksgiving Point. The amazing, one-of-a-kind, drive through lights festival features more than 1 million lights.
Guests will have approximately a 15-minute drive throughout Thanksgiving Point and Electric Park.
Five different holiday themes are featured during the drive: Victorian Village, Toyland, Candyland, Winter Wonderland and the Elf Village.
One of the largest displays in this year’s holiday lights is Santa’s Flight School, which is 125 feet wide and more than 40 feet high. Visit www.thanksgivingpoint.com for more information.
SPANISH FORK FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS
The Spanish Fork Festival of Lights is located at the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon, a bit down the road after you turn right at the Little Acorn Restaurant and Chevron Sign.
This festival also features more than 1 million lights. Visit www.spanishfork.org/newsevents/events/festivaloflights/ for more information.