Why Christmas lights matter
For decades, it has been the case that suburbia gets transformed come every December (and increasingly, earlier and earlier in the year) by the phenomenon of Christmas lights. Love them or loathe them, for many of us in the western world, jazzing up our house during the festive period is just as much a part of the holiday season as terrible jumpers as presents, mulled wine and Christmas stockings.
But of course they do rather split opinion. One house with a giant array of lights adorning its facade can drastically alter the character of a street or even a whole neighborhood – to the disgruntlement of certain residents. Every year stories emerge in the media about neighbors warring over an inconvenient neon light, some disputes becoming very heated and even resulting in legal action. In 2011 there was a local furore in Pennsylvania when one unfortunate resident was fined a total of $400 for decorating her house with lights. Outcry, imploring the local council to lighten up (pun intended), ensued.
A community event
Particularly in the United States, where Christmas is perhaps a more colorful and diverse event, the rigging and ceremonial turning on of a street’s Christmas lights acts as a point of coming together for many communities – again, love them or loathe them, rightly or wrongly. Just pick pretty much any of the most iconic American television shows of the past 30 or so years, and you can find Christmas lights playing a central part of those Christmas specials. Just check out certain episodes of The Simpsons or The Wonder Years to glean exactly how central Christmas lights are.
In short, if all members of a community have the right attitude, then Christmas lights can be the basis of new friendships and a renewal of community spirit – and, more often than not, a spot of healthy competition too. So get shopping Australia!
Think of the children!
If there are two things young children can always be relied upon to be thrilled by, it’s surely Christmas and bright lights. So here is an opportunity to combine the two, and infuse kids with that mysterious Christmas magic, building lasting memories and keeping the delights of Christmas lights alive into another generation. The process of setting up, rigging and eventually turning on Christmas lights can be dazzling to infant eyes.
An issue of international importance
The importance of Christmas lights has even been felt on a diplomatic scale. In 2011, those barrel-of-laughs North Koreans decided to threaten South Korea with retaliation (taking who knows what form) if the latter put up Christmas lights a near the border that the two nations share. The North Koreans regarded any such lights as ‘psychological warfare promoting Christianity’.
It is unlikely, however, that come December when your friendly neighbor is arranging the Christmas lights on his or her house, that he is waging psychological warfare on you. In addition, any responsible Christmas lights aficionado will only have his or her display fully lit for a few hours every night – certainly not into the small hours. So remember: Christmas lights require consideration, as well as imagination.