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  • The original Rudolph did not have a red nose. In that day and age, red noses were seen as an indicator of chronic alcoholism and Montgomery Ward didn’t want him to look like a drunkard. To complete the original picture, he was almost named Reginald or Rollo.
  • The Christmas wreath was originally hung as a symbol of Jesus. The holly represents his crown of thorns and the red berries the blood he shed.
  • The three traditional colors of most Christmas decorations are red, green and gold. Red symbolizes the blood of Christ, green symbolized life and rebirth, and gold represents light, royalty and wealth.
  • Tinsel was invented in 1610 in Germany and was once made of real silver.
  • The oldest artificial Christmas trees date back to the late 1800s and were made of green raffia (think grass hula skirts) or dyed goose feathers. Next the Addis Brush Company used their machinery that wove toilet brushes to create pine-like branches for artificial Christmas trees that were less flammable and could hold heavier decorations.
  • ‘Jingle Bells’ – the popular Christmas song was composed by James Pierpont in Massachusetts, America. It was, however, written for thanksgiving and not Christmas.
  • Coca-Cola was the first company that used Santa Claus during the winter season for promotion.
  • Hallmark introduced their first Christmas cards in 1915.
  • The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine. A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on that day.
  • Santa Claus's sleigh is led by eight reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder (variously spelled Donder and Donner), and Blixem (variously spelled Blixen and Blitzen), with Rudolph being a 20th-century inclusion.
  • Outdoor Christmas lights on homes evolved from decorating the traditional Christmas tree and house with candles during the Christmas season. Lighting the tree with small candles dates back to the 17th century and originated in Germany before spreading to Eastern Europe.
  • That big, jolly man in the red suit with a white beard didn’t always look that way. Prior to 1931, Santa was depicted as everything from a tall gaunt man to a spooky-looking elf. He has donned a bishop's robe and a Norse huntsman's animal skin. When Civil War cartoonist Thomas Nast drew Santa Claus for Harper's Weekly in 1862, Santa was a small elflike figure who supported the Union. Nast continued to draw Santa for 30 years, changing the color of his coat from tan to the red he’s known for today.
  • Christmas 2018 countdown has already begun. Will you be ready???
  • Why do we love Christmas? It's all about the traditions. In this chaotic world we can miss the "good old days." Christmas reminds us of that time.


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About jhoybs

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  • My favorite Christmas story
  • Location
    Muskego, WI
  • Biography
    I have been designing and constructing Christmas light displays since I was 12. There is nothing like firing up the Christmas music and hanging lights to put me in the Christmas spirit.
  • Interests
    Christmas Lighting
  • Occupation
    Electrical/Software Engineer
  • About my display

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  1. Incandescent lights have a failure mode of the filament burning out. The failure mode for LEDs is dimming (assuming that there is no other problem such as manufacturing deflects or connection problems) over time. I agree with merrymidget - these LEDs are the cheapest, bottom-of-the-barrel devices. Generally, most LEDs last 50K hours, but that depends on how hard they are being driven and their operating temperature. I have never done any analysis of Christmas lights, but I'd bet that they are overdriven and we will never get 50K hours from them. Have you done any string mods such as full-wave rectifying them? Are all your strings dimmer or is this just a set or two?
  2. I switched part of my display out to LEDs this year - specifically 150' of icicle lights. This is my first experience with LED strings, but I've read a lot here. The strings are the Diogen brand, full-wave and sealed variety. After receiving the strings, I burned them in (basement) for 24 hours. The 20 working strings were then hung up but left off (connected to each other, but not to power). A week later when I plugged them in, 4 of the 20 strings were defective (specifically 4 strings were half lit). My strings are all wired in series from 2 power feeds (10 strings per feed). Over the course of the next 2 weeks, 3 of the 4 defective strings have "repaired" themselves; there is only 1 defective string remaining. My questions are: 1) Has anybody else experienced this behavior with LEDs? 2) Can I assume that I will have problems with these strings that have come back to life in the future? Thanks, Jim
  3. OK - This is getting weirder every day. Over the course of the last 2 days, 2 of the 4 "defective" strings are now lighting. It may be a temperature related problem since it has warmed up about 10 degrees since the first night. Has anybody else experienced this? Usually, if you see a problem once, you can almost guarantee that it will come back to bite you later.
  4. I realize the GFCI breakers as well as outlets both trip at 5mA, but what I'm saying is that the breakers have much more accurate circuitry to prevent false trips. Starting current surges from Inductive loads like motors false trip GFCI devices often, but these motors are false tripping (unless you have a real problem like a motor in water). Whether your GFCI's are false tripping or you actually do have current leakage to ground would determine what measures to take (ie: the great tips earlier in this thread). My old house had only icicles hanging on hooks screwed into wood. There was no possible path to ground when it rained - yet my GFCI outlet tripped all the time.
  5. When all of you are referring to tripping GFCI circuits, are you talking about typical duplex outlets tripping? The house I moved into had both bathrooms and both rear/front outside outlets on a GFCI breaker in the panel. I read on a few electrical websites that GFCI breakers seems to be less sensitive to false tripping. I believe there is some merit to that since a duplex outlet goes for $10 and a breaker goes for $50-60; the quality just can't be the same with that price difference. I've only been running my display to 2 years at this house and I have yet to trip the breaker in rain or snow.
  6. I agree with all the comments regarding power draw. My display would go over the 20A circuit limit if I hadn't switched the icicles to LEDs. It is also nice being able to plug 20 strings in end-to-end without extra power feeders. I'll have to be patient but it just burns me that full wave, sealed Diogens have lesser quality than (for example) Wal-mart LEDs!
  7. They have promised to send lights to me to replace the defective strings along with a return shipping label. My bigger concern is how many more strings from my original order as well as the replacements are going to fail? I burned these strings in for 24 hours in my basement and all were working when I hung them up. I had them hung outside (off) for a week. If the colder temps (35F versus 70F) is what caused the problem, I can't wait until it gets down to 10F. The vendor stated that the typical failure rate for these LEDs is 1% which I was expecting, but 24% is ridiculous. I'd suggest you test your lights ASAP - let me know what you find...
  8. Well - it happened - EPIC 24% FAILURE RATE. I decided to take the plunge into the world of LEDs by converting my icicles to LED (mostly so that I could plug them end-to-end without power feeds along the way). I bought 21 full wave, sealed Diogen strings from an on-line vendor and 2 weeks after placing them outside, 4 strings are half out and a 5th has a bad plug. Seriously - I expected a lot more than this! $350 dollars later and I'm replacing them with my easily repairable, 2003 incandescent icicles. How do these manufacturers expect us to pay through the nose for "quality" lights when Menards, Home Depot, Target, Walmart lights are so cheap you can buy new each year!?! If anybody sees me asking about LEDs in the future, stop me at all costs...I've learned my lesson.
  9. Do you cover the can with something to prevent water intrusion? Do you just mount these in the grass like a typical light?
  10. Jason, When I first started with Christmas displays in the late 80's, I found out quickly that colored lights only last a season or two before the colors started to flake off or fade. Within the next 5 years I converted over to clear lights only. Recently because of the molded LED caps and the availability of colored caps for incan's, I've considered adding light controllers and fading between colors. This is another reason for my post since this decision is the start of colored lights and computerization.
  11. Tim, This is the kind of discussion I was looking for. I've had a modest (incandescent) display for over 20 years and I usually only need to purchase new lights once very 10 years or when I have an addition. The typical burned out blub or (more typical) broken off lead is easy to fix; I've only needed to solder in a new lamp holder 4 times since, at this point, I usually relegate the string to "replacement blub" duty. I completely agree that LED technology is here and has matured to the point of being reliable. The problem really is with the manufacturing and design of Christmas light strings. If you look at a typical string, you have 2 wire strips, 2 crimps and a wiper system for every blub so even if the LED itself is reliable, you still have 90% of all failure points that incan's have built into the design. It is because of this that huge price difference, for my purposes, just doesn't seem to make sense.
  12. Brian, Blacklight effects could be interesting since I painted my figures all white (see above). I'll do some more research on outdoor blacklights and the website you provided. Thanks,
  13. Here are pictures of the 2010 display. The pictures are deceiving in that they don't really show how much light bleeds onto the house.
  14. Hi all, I know this subject is talked about a lot, but I'm trying to convince myself to take the plunge into the world of LEDs. I work at a large lighting company where we have been using LEDs to light products for 10 years. My current needs are 150ft of icicle lights and 5 artificial trees each containing 6 - 100 bulb light strings. To convert my small display to LEDs would cost me about a grand (figuring full-wave, sealed strings from online vendors). When I analyze it, the payback on LEDs just doesn't seem worth it. The lights would have to last more than 5 years to make it cost-effective and based on all the quality issues that I've read about over the years in these forums, it almost seems like incandescent is the path to stick with. Can anybody offer any suggestions? Thanks!
  15. Over the years, I have made eight 3D nativity patterns from the Winfield Collection. Every year the same subject comes up: how to light them. Currently, I'm using 6 outdoor CFL floodlights since I like the energy savings. The problem is that it not only lights the figures, but also the whole house. I'd love to find a way to just light the figures. I've considering lighting them from above and I've also considered using more, smaller-powered blubs closer to the figures. The 3D aspect throws a monkey wrench into things since 1 flood per figure doesn't quite light them up. I also plan add a figure or 2 per year. Any suggestions? Thanks!
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