By Victoria Mullen
A lot of hard work goes into planning and executing a tree lighting ceremony.
We won’t go into specifics now (we will share some fun historical facts later), but do not miss the Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Kentwood Public Library, 4950 Breton Rd. SE, on Wednesday, December 2 from 6-8 pm.
Please take note… this is a new location from years past.
Free for the whole family, the fun begins at 6 pm with a Candy Cane Hunt. Also beginning at 6 pm are Carriage Rides and Hay Rides, new this year. Enjoy light refreshments from 6-6:45, and then be sure to stick around for the main event at 6:45, the Tree Lighting Ceremony. It will put you in a festive mood, assuming you’re not already there mentally. And if you are, be prepared to get even more amped up, thanks to the music performed by the EKHS Jazz Band.
If you want photos with Santa–he’s a good sport, so be kind–bring your own camera. Even more fun awaits: From 4-8 pm, kids and adults are welcome to buy presents at the Elves Express Gift Shop where all gifts—suitable for all ages—are just $2 each.
Tree lighting ceremonies often go unappreciated, and that’s a shame. The custom harks back to 18th-century Germany when candles were used to decorate family Christmas trees in upper-class homes. I’ve often wondered how they got the candles to stay put without burning down the house. And then I found out: Those old-timey, creative geniuses glued the candles to a tree branch with melted wax or used pins to attach the candles. Still a hazardous proposition, in my opinion. It wasn’t until around 1890 that candle holders came into use and later, between 1902 and 1914, cute little lanterns and glass balls held the candles in place.
Christmas lights, holiday lights, twinkle lights, midget bulbs, Italian lights, mini lights (and in the UK, fairy lights)–a light by any other name still illuminates. Early electric Christmas lights came on the scene in the 1880s, no doubt preventing countless holiday fires caused by candles.
There is a dark side to holiday lights, alas, and it has to do with recycling. Amazingly, more than 20 million pounds of discarded holiday lights are shipped to the Christmas light recycling capital of the world, aka Shijiao, China. This unfortunate custom began around 1990 because of–you guessed it–cheap labor and dismal environmental standards. Details here.
We certainly don’t intend this as a downer, but it’s important to not take our holiday light consumption, er, lightly. Suffice it to say that safer techniques are now used to separate out the elements, and everything is recycled: Glass, copper, plastic and brass. Plus, each year, new-fangled, energy-efficient and even longer-lasting lights come on the scene. Perhaps there will come a day when very few need to be recycled.
It’s a pleasant thought, right?