It is kind of hard to believe that the first "lights" people put on their trees were candles! We apparently can blame Martin Luther, the protestant reformer, who in 1525 put a candle on a tree to symbolize the arrival of Jesus Christ.
Candles were widely used through the Victorian era (approximately 1830 to 1914) to light up Christmas trees, (if you'll pardon the expression). They actually would tie the candles to the branches and light them all for a cozy glow.
Initially, candles were only used by wealthy people as they were very expensive then. Of course, fires were a regular consequence of the hazardous decorations. House fires were not rare, but surprisingly a number of the flaming incidents were caused by people reaching into the trees to retrieve a gift or present on the branches.
Using real candles on Christmas trees was commonplace for many years, and the cause of many a conflagration. Elaborate – and flammable – Victorian dress made this practice particularly hazardous.
Thankfully candles are not the problem anymore. That is to say, the ones on the tree, anyhow! There are still plenty of house fires caused by the Christmas trees themselves.
According to Dakota News Now, the National Fire Prevention Association revealed that:
U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 160 fires started by Christmas trees a year.
So in an effort to keep you from being one of those families needing to call 911 during the holiday season, here are a few tips:
- Do not get a dry tree, if you run your fingers down a branch & the needles are already coming off - - avoid!
- When you do find a fresh tree, make sure you cut a couple of inches off the bottom so it will drink water.
- Your decorations should be non-flammable.
- Try not to set a record for most light strings ever-connected back to back on a Christmas tree! (Were looking at you, Clark Griswold!)
- Don't leave the tree on overnight or when you're not home.
- Keep the aforementioned candles far from the tree.
- Have smoke alarms on every level of your home and better yet right outside every bedroom.
- There is a magical landscaping product called Wiltpruf, that is sprayed on conifers to keep them from drying out during the winter. It does the same thing for Christmas trees. It kind of smells like Elmer's Glue and does diminish the pine smell of your tree, but it works.
Have a great, safe, and blessed Christmas!
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