Like many kids, I loved Christmas. But it wasn’t just about the presents under the tree.  I loved everything else — the gingerbread cookies, the wreaths on the door and yes, the holiday lights.

My dad kind of took a unique approach the lights.  He bought these iridescent blue lights and wrapped on the trunks of the trees in our front yard.  Driving up the street, I always knew which house was ours — the one with the glowing blue trunks!

But it sort of became a rite of passage to spend one weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas touring the various neighborhoods to see what other light displays were out there.  A local park set up a veritable winter wonderland, complete with candy canes, sleighs and reindeer.

After New Year’s, I became sad when all the lights would disappear.

What a pleasure to move to Nederland and find out that people continued to light up the houses after New Year’s.  Someone said it had something to do with Three Kings Day on January 6.  But that day came and went, and the lights still shone brilliantly.

Another person told me it had to do with the lighted star on the hill above Boulder.  The start supposedly stayed lit until Martin Luther King’s Day.  But after that Monday, nobody’s lights came down. I didn’t understand why, but I delighted in it. I never did really understand if there was definite time to take them down.  The lights shone brightly through the end of January.

As they say, when in Rome…

So we went along with the program, continuing to plug in our multi-colored lights.  And then, driving to work I heard a story on Colorado Public Radio that shed some “light” (pardon the pun) on the issue.

One of the biggest events of the year in Denver takes place in January — the National Western Stock Show. For 16 days, Denver is filled with all things rodeo – calf roping, bull riding, barrel racing and more. It usually runs for the last two weeks in January.

According to the CPR story, it’s a Denver tradition to keep your holiday lights up through the end of the stock show.  Aah, now this is making sense.  Apparently, the tradition has been going for more than 75 years. According to an old article in the Steamboat newspaper, it started way back in 1943.  The holiday lights providing a welcoming and festive atmosphere for all the thousands of people coming to Denver for the stock show.

Who actually started the tradition?  We’ll probably never know.  But I’m glad for all the Coloradans on the Front Range who stick with it and educate our newbies about it.  Happily I stare out our window to see our new neighbor from Washington, DC has been sufficiently educated.

For three more weeks, I get to enjoy my favorite part of the holiday season.