Christmas is best celebrated  with multicolored lights | Flickr
Christmas is best cel­e­brated with mul­ti­colored lights | Flickr

‘Tis the season for boughs of holly, Christmas trees, and lights all aglow. But each year, the heated argument returns: should those lights be clear, or colored?

Colored lights are more appro­priate for the Christmas season than white lights. Colored lights are used exclu­sively for holiday dec­o­rating, which keeps them set apart as a sign of Christmas. The colors also add a cheerful, festive element to other dec­o­ra­tions, which white lights cannot do.

Clear lights dec­orate dorm rooms, formal events, and country clubs all year round, which waters down their effect during the holiday season. Since passersby are accus­tomed to seeing white lights every­where, their appearance on lamp­posts in late November is less effective than their colored coun­ter­parts.

Con­versely, the best proof that colored lights are uniquely appro­priate for Christmas is that they are almost never used for any­thing else. They would look odd at a wedding, or draped across a dorm room wall with pho­tographs clothes­pinned to the cord. But as soon as most of the turkey is out of grocery-store freezers, colored lights are fes­tooned every­where to signal that Christmas is coming.

Defenders of clear lights emphasize their ele­gance and sim­plicity. They argue that white lights make other dec­o­ra­tions, such as tree orna­ments, more visible because colors are not dis­torted by clear light.

While all this is true, that clear light is the same light that makes homework more visible via a desk lamp. There is nothing uniquely festive or special about white light, espe­cially in the modern age, when all light after 6 p.m. is white and arti­ficial.

Colored lights do alter the appearance of other dec­o­ra­tions, but the colored light adds to the effect, rather than detracting from it. Colored lights cast a muted, rosy glow only found at Christmas, cre­ating a cheerful, cozy, and festive ambiance. Similar to the warm light of a fire­place, the colored lights inspire a con­tented feeling of being home for the hol­idays that clear lights simply cannot achieve.

White-light advo­cates also claim that white lights are more ver­satile, because they are easier to match with home decor. However, Christmas dec­o­ra­tions almost never match the home regardless. Dark-green gar­lands and fire-engine-red Santas often clash with the wall­paper and cur­tains, but that stops no one from putting pine branches and jolly St. Nicks on every flat surface in the house.

Colored Christmas lights are more appro­priate because they capture the season in a unique and special way. Used only at Christmas time, the warm light they cast becomes asso­ciated with family, home-cooked food, the smell of pine, “It’s A Won­derful Life,” the crunch and crinkle of wrapping paper, and a deep appre­ci­ation for the blessings only Christmas can bring.

Ms. Blatter is a senior studying  history and English.