Why are there Lights on the Tree?

Advent stories and messages from around the world

“Why are there Lights on the tree?”

December 14, 2021

John 9:4-5; 8:12; 3:19; 1:4

The story of the first lighted Christmas tree goes back to the 16th century. German tradition says that Protestant reformer, Martin Luther, was the first to add lit candles to a tree.

The story goes that Martin Luther was walking home through the woods one night, and he was inspired by the sight of stars twinkling amongst evergreens in the woods. So, Luther wanted to recreate his experience from the woods in his home for his family. So, he put up an evergreen in his home and put lit candles on it. (Please! Don’t ever do that; it’s a fire hazard).

We have to move forward three centuries to see the first Christmas tree with lights. So it’s only appropriate that Thomas Edison’s name is attached to this story. In 1884, Edward Hibberd Johnson, a friend and investor of Edison’s had an idea.

He set up a Christmas tree by the street-side window of his parlor. (Sitting room) Johnson then proceeded to Edison’s lab, where he hand-wired 80 red, white, and blue lights, which he strung around the tree, powered by a generator.

Today, we enjoy the beauty of all types of Christmas tree lights, on Evergreens, Spruce, artificial, and many even come pre-lit.

Here’s a quick tidbit about Christmas tree lights. The Hallmark channel has several of their Christmas movies dealing with balls of lights all tangled together every year. About 20 years ago, my wife Kathy found a tip for when you take down your Christmas lights each year. Take several empty paper towel tubes and wrap your lights around them as you take down your tree. Then, next year, all you have to do is walk around your tree, slowly unrolling the lights from the roll.


If the Christmas tree and its shape are a reminder of our Triune God, The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, then Christmas lights should remind us that Jesus is the light of the world.

The theme of Jesus being the light in our dark world is repeated throughout the Gospel of John.

“As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” John 9:4-5

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

John 3:19

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. John 1:4

How is Jesus the light of the world? Through you and me! We are His light in this world. As we read and share the scriptures with others, we are Jesus’ light to them. When we follow Christ’s life as a model for ourselves, by being a servant to all, showing kindness and love to others, we are His light in this world.

Through you and me, Jesus brings His light to others, so they may come out of the darkness of this world and be free to receive God’s Grace. So they may have the faith that you and I do in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 Dear Jesus. We know and believe that you are the light in this world. Help us spread that light throughout the world as we share your words and actions with others. Bring them to know you as our Lord and Savior who died so that we may live eternally. Amen.

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