As far back as the 1960s, it has been common in North America for people to decorate their homes with strands of outdoor lights during the winter holiday season. In the neighbourhood where I live, at least half the houses have their eaves and/or windows lined with colourful weatherproof lights, and in every high- or low-rise apartment building at least some of the balconies and windows are similarly outfitted.

Was there any similar tradition in the Soviet Union? I understand that many of the holiday traditions familiar in the Western world (Christmas trees, Santa Claus/Father Christmas, exchanging gifts, etc.) had close analogues in the USSR, except centred around New Year's Eve rather than Christmas. What I am not sure about was whether these traditions included people decorating the exteriors of their own homes with what in English would normally be referred to as Christmas lights or Fairy lights.

Some online image searches have turned up a few examples of Soviet-made Christmas lights, but these were obviously intended for internal use (probably on trees). Were outdoor Christmas lights ever available for retail purchase in the USSR? If so, how common was it to see them used on houses and apartments?

  • Outdoor Christmas lights go back well before the 1960s.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jan 25 at 15:21
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    Not at all. To get a realistic idea what exteriors looked like around New Year, you can watch some of the Soviet-made "Christmas movies" (like "Irony of fate"). (I am not suggesting Soviet movies as a good source of information about life in USSR in general, just for the purpose of this question.) Commented Jan 25 at 15:40
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    Based on lived, experience - no. Decorations (for New Year, not Christmas) were indoors only.
    – SPavel
    Commented Jan 25 at 17:13
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    Think about technology for a moment. For outdoor light, you need outdoor electrical outlets, and for that, the control over the outer skin of your home. That is typical for American suburbia, but these sort of housing concepts did not exist in the USSR. There, you had a) a traditional home with a garden in a village – not a place to show off wealth, b) an apartment in a housing block, often with a balcony (and that often closed-off with window panes for winter use) – everything would have to stay indoors or behind windows, c) a dacha (summer house) – nobody being around at christmas.
    – ccprog
    Commented Jan 25 at 17:26
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    Usually, there was a decorated Christmas tree in the town center (example) which was used for public festivities on New Year's eve. Some stores would put New Year themed displays. Outdoor Christmas lights were not really thing, most of the people in the cities lived in apartment blocks and kept decorations inside. For families in private homes you'd expect to see some snowmen and maybe a Christmas tree in the yard. Commented Jan 26 at 10:05


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