That string of multi-colored Christmas lights wrapped around your tree (or your house) is far more influential to American history than you might think. 

The first electric Christmas lights debuted in 1882, shortly after the invention of the incandescent light bulb itself, in the New York home of a Thomas Edison employee. They quickly became a vehicle for electric companies to tout the magic of electrical power.

In the process, they helped secularize very basic symbols of the Christmas season. In this episode, find out how the invention of whimsical colored lights helped redefine the holiday and create comfort and unity for millions of Americans.

PLUS: The origin story of those 'classy' lights you see wrapped around trees and lampposts on respectable urban avenues.

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