When should you take down your Christmas decorations?

27 December 2017, 15:29

CHristmas tree removal

Yes, it's only a couple of days after Christmas Day, but it's hard to avoid the thoughts of going back to work or school...

With January just a few days away, it's sadly already time to start thinking about the dreaded task of taking down our Christmas decorations. But when is the right time?

Technically, you can leave them up all year if you wanted (especially the lights outside, they're a right faff to put up every year!), but if you wanted to follow tradition and avoid bad luck, what is the usual date to tidy it all away?

Since the Victorian era, the tradition has been to remove all decorations on Twelfth Night. But hang on, when is that exactly?

When is Twelfth Night?

Depending on which faith you follow, it is either on January 5 or January 6, and is the last day you should keep decorations up.

A day sooner or later is considered unlucky by many. If decorations are not removed by Twelfth Night, then according to tradition they should stay up all year. Yeesh.

Until the 19th century, people kept their decorations up until Candlemas Day on February 2.

Twelfth Night falls on January 5 and Epiphany on January 6. Twelfth Night is named as such because Christmas was a 12-day celebration, beginning on December 25.

Why is it unlucky?

January 5 is considered the last day of Christmas festivities, the eve of the Epiphany. In the past, it was thought that tree-spirits lived in the trees' greenery – such as holly and ivy.

Though the season provided shelter for the spirits during the winter, they had to be released once Christmas was over. If this didn't take place, then the greenery would not return and vegetation would not grow, causing agricultural and food problems.

Even though Christmas decorations nowadays don't contain as much foliage (if at all), many people still believe in the superstition behind it.

Where can I take my Christmas tree?

Real Christmas trees will usually be accepted at most household dumps, but local authorities, garden centres and community groups also often accept them for recycling.

You can find out where might be suitable in your area here.