When to Take Down Your Christmas Decorations?

The food has been eaten, the presents have been unwrapped and Christmas has come to an end.

At the end of the festive season, it’s normal for the melancholy to set in as we realise it’s soon time to go back to the real world, but the taking down of the Christmas decorations is perhaps the one activity that makes this realisation even greater. 

Every household has its own traditions, but did you know that there is actually an official date for when the Christmas decorations should come down?

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the question of ‘when to take down your Christmas decorations?’ providing you with all the information you need.

When To Take Down Your Christmas Decorations?

As mentioned above, despite people often doing their own thing, many people also choose to adhere to the rule of Twelfth Night. 

A combination of tradition, religion and superstition, Twelfth Night outlines that decorations should be taken down 12 days after Christmas Day (hence the song Twelve Days of Christmas) which falls on either 5th January or 6th January depending on your interpretation. 

In times gone by, one of these dates would be the traditional time to take down the household Christmas Day. This is because the tree used to be the only decoration in the house, and while it remains a focal point, in modern times we’re used to a whole lot more with pretty much every area of the home decorated in some way. It’s even normal for decorations to be placed outside the home and in gardens. 

So if you’re someone who likes to follow tradition, then make sure your decorations have been taken down and cleared away by Twelfth Night. 

What Is Twelfth Night?

The tradition of Twelfth Night is an extremely old one. In fact, it can be traced all the way back to the 4th century!

Twelfth Night marks the end of the Christmas period and the eve of the Epiphany, also known as Christian feast day.  

But what actually is Twelfth Night? Well, let’s find out.

Most of us are familiar with the Advent period. And while these days Advent is about chocolate and counting down the days to the big Christmas celebration, traditionally the term refers to the four week period prior to the birth of Jesus Christ. 

Then, the Christmas celebrations would begin on Christmas Day (25th December) and last for a full 12 days, bringing us to the evening of 5th January otherwise known as Twelfth Night. 

The Epiphany is its own celebration which takes place the following day on 6th January. This celebration marks the Magi, or the three wise men as they’re more commonly known, visiting Jesus in his manger in Bethlehem where they presented him with gold, frankincense and myrrh. 

Whether Twelfth Night actually falls on the 5th or the morning of the 6th along with the Epiphany has been a source of debate for centuries. 

The Church of England celebrates Twelfth Night on the 5th January and mark the Epiphany with a celebratory period that spans from 6th January to 2nd February. However, some people claim that Twelfth Night also falls on 6th January as the 12 days Christmas period should be counted after Christmas Day rather than beginning from the day itself. In particular, the January 6th tradition is followed by nations including Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic.  

Whatever interpretation you have, it’s generally considered bad luck to have your Christmas decorations on display after Twelfth Night, whenever you think it should be. 

Should You Take Down Christmas Decorations On New Year’s Eve?

While not as common as the tradition of Twelfth Night, some people claim that all Christmas decorations should be removed on New Year’s Eve and before the new year has begun. 

Again, this stems from superstition with some cultures believing that you may be encouraging bad luck into the New Year if you still have your decorations on display beyond midnight on New Year’s Eve. 

Roman Catholic Tradition 

For Roman Catholics, Christmas trees and decorations often stay up even longer than the dates we’ve discussed above. 

Due to the tradition of Candlemas, some Roman Catholics keep their decorations up until the 2nd of February which is the date when Jesus was presented at the temple.  

How To Dispose Of Your Christmas Tree

If you’re someone who prefers a real Christmas tree compared to an artificial version, it’s important that you properly dispose of it following the festive period. 

We’d always recommend doing your bit for the environment by recycling or reusing your tree wherever possible. While some people like to get a new Christmas tree each year, this is not always necessary. 

For example, if you have a potted Christmas tree it can simply be planted in your garden after Christmas. This will keep it alive and provide your garden with a beautiful new addition. 

If this isn’t possible, the tree can be recycled and used for compositing and wood chippings with these chippings used in local parks or woodland areas. Some local councils will even provide a dedicated collection service where they will take the tree off your hands and dispose of it responsibly. Alternatively, they might provide you with advice and information on places where you can drop off the tree where it’ll be recycled. 

Lots of garden centres will also be more than happy to take old trees from you. 

Christmas Decoration Storing Tips 

Putting the Christmas decorations away for another year is always a bit of a depressing experience. 

However, by following the handy tips below you can at least make the task more straightforward and make things easier for yourself when you need to get them out again in a year’s time. 

  1. Wrap lights around cardboard – This will prevent frustrating tangles from occurring. 
  2. Reuse delivery packaging to store decorations – Label each box clearly so you can easily tell your baubles and tinsel apart next year. 
  3. Give fragile items extra packaging – If you have any glass baubles or ornaments that could easily break, use bubble wrap or even old newspaper to carefully wrap them. This will protect them and prevent them from breaking.
  4. Place trees in Christmas tree bags – Put your artificial tree in a Christmas tree bag to keep them secure and well-protected.

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