Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News archives

Christmas is a time of giving, renewed devotion, hope, snow, festive songs and lights. And Christmas lights are a renowned specialty at Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

The lights on Temple Square — lit this year on Nov. 27 — have been a tradition for decades.

In 1965, David O. McKay, then-president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, asked arborist J. Leland Behunin to pioneer the project of stringing Christmas lights on Temple Square.

Nearly 15,000 people attended the first “Lighting of Temple Square," according to a 2011 Deseret News article. When President McKay touched the button to turn on the 40,000 lights, the Deseret News reported that “a mighty aah of appreciation went up from the crowd."

On that historic occasion, President McKay said, “Our minds tonight should be on the babe of Bethlehem, whose coming into the world Christmas morning reminds us all that we each should have in our hearts the love of Christ.”

From 1965-1982, Behunin and his son, Ben, wrapped the Temple Square trees in Christmas lights. The church took over the undertaking after that.

Over the years, millions have enjoyed the atmosphere the lights create on Temple Square during the Christmas season.

Click through to see pictures of the lights on Temple Square through the years.

1965
Deseret News archives

President McKay speaks briefly after turning on the Christmas lights for the first time in 1965. At left is his counselor, President N. Eldon Tanner.

1965
Deseret News archives

Following the lighting ceremony, the crowd fills the Tabernacle to capacity for a performance of the Christmas opera "Amahl and the Night Visitors."

1965
Deseret News archives

Crowds fill Temple Square on Dec. 9, 1965.

1965
Deseret News archives

Viewing their handiwork at Temple Square are electricians Ned Huntsman, left, and Rudy Kaufmann.

1965
Deseret News archives

A decorated Temple Square gate greets the crowd of thousands attending the lighting ceremony and Christmas opera.

1965
Deseret News Archives

Three wise men are displayed on Temple Square grounds on Dec. 22, 1965.

1965
Deseret News archives

One of the evening's highlights was the appearance of the famed Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The choir sang several traditional holiday songs, and the thousands on hand for the lighting ceremony joined in one of the carols.

1965
Deseret News archives

One of the biggest throngs ever gathered on Temple Square was on hand to see the grounds turned into a dazzling Christmas wonderland. At left is a life-size manger scene, which is part of the display, and in the background is the Tabernacle Choir.

1966
Deseret News archives

Edgar Larsen, left, and Ned Huntsman arrange Christmas lights and cables at the Seagull Monument in 1966.

1966
J.M. Heslop, Deseret News archives

Mary and Joseph are greeted by the innkeeper in a scene on Temple Square, Dec. 17, 1966.

1966
Deseret News archives

Lights glow at the second annual Christmas lights ceremony on Temple Square on Dec. 17, 1966.

1966
Deseret News archives

The Seagull Monument and temple all aglow on Dec. 17, 1966, the second year of lights on Temple Square.

1967
Deseret News archives

Ben Behunin goes out on a limb to place Christmas lights on the tree next to the Salt Lake Temple in the fall of 1967.

1967
Deseret News archives

Temple Square sparkles with 100,000 lights and Bethlehem scenes of Christ's birth on Dec. 9, 1967.

Late 1960s
Deseret News Archives

A cherry-picking machine helped J. Leland and Ben Behunin place Christmas lights on the tall trees at Temple Square in the late 1960s.

1976
Deseret News archives

The recreation of the Christ child lying in a manger on Temple Square on Dec. 4, 1976.

1978
Deseret News archives

Christmas lights glow on Temple Square on Dec. 2, 1978.

1978
Deseret News archives

The Jay Thelin family admires the statue honoring the handcart pioneers, which is illuminated by the Christmas lights on Temple Square on Dec. 2, 1978.

1983
Paul Barker, Deseret News archives

The Temple Square lighting ceremony held on Dec. 18, 1983, included exhibits inside the visitors center. Here, Jenny Cannon, 4, and her brother, Danny, 8, look at a Christmas tree.

1983
Deseret News archives

Christmas lights flood a snowy Temple Square with the holiday spirit on Nov. 27, 1983.

1983
Deseret News archives

President Ezra Taft Benson and his wife, Flora, sit with other LDS Church leaders at the opening of the lights on Temple Square in December 1983.

1997
Laura Seitz, Deseret News archives

While a few autumn leaves cling to their branches on Oct. 24, 1997, Jacob Helmstetler of Rose Park hangs white Christmas lights on a tree on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. It takes about two months for Helmstetler and other workers to hang the approximately 800,000 lights on the trees.

1998
Tom Smart, Deseret News archives

The Christus on Temple Square during Christmas.

1998
Chuck Wing, Deseret News archives

The Christmas lights illuminate Temple Square on Nov. 29, 1998.

2000
Tom Smart, Deseret News archives

The plaza next to Temple Square is decorated with Christmas lights Dec. 4, 2000.

2000
Tom Smart, Deseret News Archives

The plaza next to Temple Square is decorated with Christmas lights on Dec. 4, 2000.

2001
Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News archives

Christmas lights illuminate Temple Square on Dec. 7, 2001.

2001
Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News archives

Christmas lights illuminate Temple Square on Dec. 7, 2001.

2002
Keith Johnson, Deseret News archives

Temple Square groundskeeper Kathryn Brown strings lights on trees planted along the Main Street Plaza on Oct. 3, 2002.

2003
Jeremy Harmon, Deseret News archives

The Christmas lights at Temple Square and the LDS Salt Lake Temple are seen with a long exposure zoom effect on Nov. 28, 2003.

2004
Jason Olson, Deseret News archives

Jason VanWagenen, of Colorado, carries his son Dallin on his shoulders for a better view as they look at the lights on Temple Square during the Lights On celebrations in downtown Salt Lake City on Nov. 26, 2004.

2005
Jason Olson, Deseret News archives

Three-year-old Jacob Scheffner peeks inside a luminary outside the Church Office Building as he and other visitors gets their first look at the lights on Temple Square after they were turned on as part of a downtown Lights On celebration on Nov. 25, 2005.

2005
Jason Olson, Deseret News archives

Visitors gets their first look at the lights on Temple Square after they were turned on as part of a downtown Lights On celebration on Nov. 25, 2005.

2006
Tom Smart, Deseret News

This Nov. 24, 2006, picture captures the first day of the Christmas lights on Temple Square for the 2006 season.

2006
Tom Smart, Deseret News

Visitors to Temple Square take in the Christmas lights surrounding the Salt Lake Temple on Nov. 24, 2006.

2007
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News archives

Christmas lights shine on Temple Square on Dec. 2, 2007, in Salt Lake City.

2008
Tom Smart, Deseret News

The church's Christmas light display on Temple Square traditionally marks the beginning of the Christmas season. Hundreds of thousands of lights beckon to visitors who have made visiting the display part of their Christmas tradition.

2008
Tom Smart, Deseret News

Holiday lights shine around Temple Square.

2009
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News archives

One of the Nativity scenes at Temple Square on Nov. 27, 2009.

2009
Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

One of the Nativity scenes at Temple Square on Nov. 27, 2009.

2010
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Sister missionaries stand and look at the temple amid the Christmas lights on Temple Square on Nov. 26, 2010.

Thousands of visitors walk the grounds of the temple each year to see the Nativity scene and enjoy the Christmas lights.

2010
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Months of preparation and countless lights contribute to the holiday decorations on Temple Square. Visitors from around the world gather each year to celebrate the season and focus on the Savior.

2011
Ravell Call, Deseret News

Larry Smithee hangs Christmas lights near the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City on Oct. 26, 2011. In the background is the Salt Lake Temple.

2011
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Downtown visitors walk through the Christmas lights on Nov. 25, 2011.

2011
Ravell Call, Deseret News archives

Downtown visitors walk through the Christmas lights on Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Nov. 25, 2011.

2012
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News archives

Christmas lights at Temple Square on Nov. 23, 2012.

2012
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News archives

The Christmas lights are turned on at Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Nov. 23, 2012.

2012
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News archives

Christmas lights at Temple Square on Nov. 23, 2012.

2013
Matt Gade, Deseret News archives

Spectators come out to watch as the Temple Square lights are turned on for the first time for the 2013 season on Nov. 29, 2013.

2013
Matt Gade, Deseret News Archives

Spectators come out to watch as the Temple Square lights are turned on for the first time for the 2013 season on Nov. 29, 2013.

2014
Hugh Carey, Deseret News

Pedestrians check out the lights on the trees at Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Nov. 28, 2014.

Putting up the lights takes approximately four months. Full-time grounds employees and temporary workers, along with hundreds of volunteers, began preparing holiday decor on the first day of August 2014.

2014
Hugh Carey, Deseret News

Pedestrians check out the lights on the trees at Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Nov. 28, 2014.

2015
Chris Samuels, Deseret News

Temple Square missionaries sing hymns as Christmas lights shine for the first time this season at Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Nov. 27, 2015.

2015
Chris Samuels, Deseret News

The Salt Lake Temple is seen amid Christmas lights at Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Nov. 27, 2015.