Monday, November 30, 2009

Did Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern Christmas?

With his invention of the incandescent light bulb - and a myriad of other ingenious devices, did Thomas Alva Edison inadvertently invent the modern Christmas?

By: Ringo Bones

Known for his thousands of inventions, the incandescent light bulb is probably one of the most significant – if not the most significant – invention of the Wizard of Menlo Park named Thomas Alva Edison. But by inventing the incandescent light bulb, did Thomas Edison inadvertently invented the modern Christmas – i.e. the "modern look" of Christmas as we know it?

Some folks still harbor the belief that Christmas is no longer Christmas without the snow. But for those of us who experience a “White Christmas” about once every decade or so - or even less as time goes by if we can’t stop the harmful effects of global warming - Christmas isn’t Christmas without Christmas Lights. Thanks to Thomas Edison. But did Thomas Edison eventually established the look of contemporary Christmas more or less aesthetically pleasing – or is it more or less kitschy?

Have you ever tried to use burning candles or other open-flamed light sources as a substitute for those cutesy incandescent series Christmas lights? Given the flammability of a typical real Christmas Tree, using candles and other open flamed light sources in a typical natural Christmas Tree is not exactly a recipe for a happy Christmas given the fire hazard involved in this set-up.

Energy-saving light emitting diode-based Christmas Lights or LED-based Christmas Lights might be disliked by purists because it detracts the warm glow of Edison’s original incandescent light bulbs. But if you ask me, LED Christmas lights are better than lighting your Christmas Tree with candles or other open flamed light sources. Plus, given that some folks tend to set up their Christmas lights before Thanksgiving and put them away two weeks after the Russian Orthodox Christmas, electrical bills during the Yuletide Season could be significant. So LED-based Christmas Lights do make environmental sense.

Plus LED-based keeps “preventable” greenhouse gases from being released into our atmosphere to cause global warming. Keeping the prospects of a White Christmas more on less a regular annual occurrence. So there’s no need to keep playing Jimmy Buffett’s Christmas in the Caribbean album – especially the vinyl version - whenever there is no snow during the Yuletide Season. Yet another reason to thank the inventiveness of the Wizard of Menlo Park, Thomas Alva Edison – the man who made modern Christmas – or at least the modern look of contemporary Christmas - possible.


Halogenica said...

Actually, Edison didn't invent the light bulb, he just improved it and was just the first to successfully market it.

As for LEDs, I think the coloured ones look great, but the ones trying to imitate incandescent lamps tend to look a bit pink-white or greenish yellow. I hope manufacturers will be able to improve their colour for coming seasons.

Ringo said...

Thanks for the insight. Actually, I'm not that big a fan of Thomas Alva Edison because of his miserly praise of the great genius of Nikola Tesla.
Being "old enough" to have seen 12,000-volt neon lamp-based Christmas Tree lighting being marketed for home use, LED-based Christmas lights for all their environmental and climate-friendly advantages has yet to dethrone the dominance of tungsten filament-based Christmas Tree lights.

Halogenica said...

I'm more of a Tesla fan myself and couldn't agree more about the beauty of real incandescent light.

May Anne said...

It was posted on Wikipedia that Edison did improve the incandescent lightbulb, making it a commercially viable commodity. And Edison did fairly compensate those folks who managed to patent first their concept of the incandescent bulb. Ironic given his much-publicized "opinion" of Nikola Tesla.
Back in the 17th Century, folks first used candles on Christmas Trees as an early form of Christmas lighting. But only on December 24th due to fire hazards, unlike we today who put on Christmas lights from September to February.

Je M'Apelle Ja'Nelle said...

What about those environmentally friendly Christmas Trees that are ethically produced by some socially responsible corporation? Those could still help our planet's environment, right? Or is it just all Yuletide Season corporate "Green Washing" after the Copenhagen Climate Conference resulted in a climate deal only geared for the ├╝ber-rich?