How do you deck your halls at holiday time? For me, it’s all about bright, sparkly lights. I once bought some star lights from IKEA and loved them so much that I kept them in my window for three years!
(Photo: Tina Phan)
Christmas lights stem from the seventeenth-century German tradition of decorating a tree with candles. In 1882 Edward Johnson, an employee of Thomas Edison, created the first electric lights for a Christmas tree and by 1890 strings of lights were on the market. In the last hundred years winter light displays have evolved into elaborate spectacles.
(Photo: Kobe Luminarie by Chotto Matte)
Japan has several festivals this time of year that take those little bulbs to a whole new level. Kobe’s Luminarie commemorates the 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake and for two weeks in December, the streets close to allow the huge crowds to view the whimsical structures created with millions of hand-painted bulbs.
(Photo: Nabana-no-Sato by Untitled-Project)
From November to March the Nabana-no-Sato theme park is illuminated with fantastical displays for Winter Illuminations. This video helps to describe just how vast and intricate the exhibit is.
Even if you aren’t up to a Griswold-worthy light show, you can still get creative with those bulbs. Why stick to trees and shrubs outside? You could decorate planters, which I think would look great with some additional winter greenery to really stand out.
(Photo: Apartment Therapy)
The development of battery-operated light strings mean that you can literally illuminate anything your heart desires. I am sorely tempted to pimp out my bike like this- I just need Santa to bring me a bike (hint, hint).
(Photo: Unique Daily)
Lights can also make a quick, inexpensive table decoration. All you need is a couple of strings and an interesting glass container, and you’re all set!
(Photo: A Pretty Life in the Suburbs)
For Jews the season is marked by Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, an eight-day celebration that commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem. According to tradition, there was only enough oil to light the Temple lamps for one night but it miraculously lasted for eight (the time it took to procure new oil). This act is reconstructed each night of Hanukkah with the lighting of candles on a special Menorah, a Hanukkiah.
The traditional candelabrum has been replaced by a myriad of designs; there is literally a Hanukkiah to suit every décor on the market now. This silver branch from West Elm seems especially appropriate for winter.
(Photo: West Elm)
(Photo: The Jewish Museum)
If your tastes are a little simpler, I suggest something like Branch Home’s Arroyo Wood Menorah. This would be perfect in a Mid-Century Modern space.
I myself will be out on December 22nd celebrating the Solstice with my fellow Torontonians in the Red Pepper Spectacle Art’s annual lantern parade to “ignite the night.” No matter what holiday you celebrate this winter, and even if you celebrate nothing at all, lights are a wonderful way to brighten these long nights. I truly hope that your December is merry and bright!
(Photo: Red Pepper Spectacle Arts)