There’s no better time of the year to feel the community cheer, and what better way to get in the festive mood than going to see your town’s Christmas lights be switched on! So for Day 5 of our Community Advent Calendar, we’re asking you to do just that.

We have been decorating our streets, trees and houses with fairy lights for as long as anyone can remember. The custom stems from 18th-century Germany when the upper class would enhance their Christmas tree with small candles. So, with the introduction of electricity - and by the time it was more affordable in the 20th century - many homes adorned their trees with strings of electric lights; soon whole streets were covered in little dangling lights, keeping people in festive spirits everywhere they went.

By the 1960s it was all the rage in the US to cover your house in Christmas lights - a tradition we have become rather accustomed to with competitions for the best display.

How many lights did it take to cover this house? A measly 300,000!  

Whether you go to see something lavish or a modest display, both are equally charming. For instance, I popped down to my local town hall yesterday to see my town’s first ever Christmas light switch-on. It was organised by community-spirited locals, there was a lovely festive atmosphere and everyone was feeling the warmth despite the cold!

Wallington town switch-on

A long-standing tradition like this is a great excuse for a community to celebrate a sense of joy and togetherness. Who doesn’t want to be part of that? So don’t miss out – put your Christmas hat on and off you pop into town!

Sarah Riddlestone, fundraising assistant