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Branson named one of the best places to see Christmas lights in the US

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Christmas in the United States is a combination of traditions from around the world.

Evergreen trees inside homes were popularized in Germany during the 16th century. Decorating with poinsettias? That idea came from Mexico (and the name of the plant came from Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first U.S. Minister to Mexico).

And 18th-century England helped to change mistletoe’s image from a poisonous plant to a poisonous plant that’s also a festive kissing trap.

However, there’s one favorite tradition with an All-American origin: electric Christmas tree lights.

It started when Edward H. Johnson, a friend and business partner of Thomas Edison, put a string of 80 hand-wired red, white and blue electric lights on a Christmas tree in 1882.

Since the majority of Americans didn’t have access to electric power until the 1930s, it took about 50 years for Johnson’s creation to become popular.

Since then, it’s become an essential part of American Christmas celebrations, whether that means a couple of strings of “tasteful” white lights around the family tree or a pulsating public display synchronized to “Jingle Bell Rock” that can be seen from low orbit.

With a nod to Mr. Johnson’s first tree, here are eight of the best locations in the United States where the electric light tradition continues to shine brightly.

While Branson, Missouri, has grown by leaps and celebrity theaters over the last several decades, Silver Dollar City has been here since 1960.

The theme park is a celebration of Ozark Mountains culture and, for more than two decades, host to An Old Time Christmas festival.

With more than 5 million lights and 1,000 decorated trees, along with nightly parades and two musical productions, An Old Time Christmas is home to the 5-Story Special Effects Christmas Tree that features 350,000 LED lights and, synchronized with Christmas music, can make up to 100 light changes per second.

November 1, 2014 to December 30, 2014

Silver Dollar City, 399 Silver Dollar City Railroad, Branson, Missouri