This year my Christmas decorations are still up. This is simply because I have not thought of taking them down yet! I’ve just been too busy with work and back to school to have enough time to think about it. I think by this time last year I had already taken them down. Last year I put them up the last weekend of November, so as soon as Boxing Day was done I was kind of sick of the sight of it all and overly keen to put them away! We put them up about a week later this year, so perhaps that’s made a slight difference.
My Christmas decorations this year are also a little different as I haven’t spread out the decorations as much. They’re all refined to a cosy ‘Christmas corner’ and not as in-your-face, so I’m not looking at them all day long. Perhaps this is why they are still up and I’m not tired of seeing them yet! Last year I decorated our fire place, but I refrained this year worried that Reuben would grab everything and pull it all off. He’s almost two and wants to investigate and explore everything in sight.
I also work evenings which means it’s only at the weekends I get to truly relax with the Christmas tree lights on, so it’s nice to long this enjoyment out a little more. I have, however, decided I will be taking them down this weekend, if not before as it does feel about time as we’re settling nicely into 2017. My husband has already asked when they are coming down, so perhaps he is starting to feel how I felt last year!
But when are we meant to take our Christmas decorations down? Does it matter? Here's a look into the history of Christmas decorations and when is traditional to take them down.
Why do we put up Christmas trees in the first place?
This is a question I asked my husband and a couple of friends this year, yet no one knew! Isn’t it bizarre how we follow these traditions without an understanding of why we are doing them? The same goes for why we celebrate Boxing Day. I only found out the meaning behind Boxing Day this year, at 31 years old!
It seems no one knows exactly when the Christmas tree tradition began, but it dates back to as early as the 15th century and perhaps even earlier. People bought evergreens into their homes as a symbol of life during the cold harsh winters. Supposedly Pagans decorated their homes with evergreen branches as a reminder spring is soon to come.
According to History Today the tradition began in the UK thanks to George III’s wife: ‘‘good Queen Charlotte’, the German wife of George III, who set up the first known English tree at Queen’s Lodge, Windsor, in December, 1800.’
Why is it traditional to take Christmas decorations down on the Twelfth Night of Christmas?
The 6th January (or 5th for some traditions) is also known as the ‘Twelfth Night of Christmas’. This has been the most traditional day to take down Christmas decorations since the Victorian times. The Twelfth Night is a festival marking the coming of the epiphany. It’s also known as the ‘Three Kings’ Day’ as it’s the day the three kings’ visited Jesus and also when Jesus was baptised. The day marks the revelation of Jesus being the son of God. It’s referred to as the ’12 Days of Christmas’ as this is how long Christmas was traditionally celebrated, starting on the 25th December. The 12th day marks the end of Christmas and its celebrations.
Apparently it’s bad luck if your decorations aren’t taken down by the Twelfth Night, or even if they are taken down sooner. Superstitious people will tell you to keep them up all year long if they are not taken down by the 12th night or you will suffer bad luck. People used to think tree spirits lived in the greenery which we decorate our homes with and they must be released back outdoors as soon as Christmas is over. It was believed failure to do so would result in poor growth of vegetation, affecting food supply for the year. I highly doubt anyone believes this now, but there are still some very superstitious people out there, so perhaps they might!
When does the UK take their Christmas decorations down?
Festive Lights recently ran an interesting survey of over 1000 people in the UK to ask “When do you take down your Christmas decorations?”
Ranked in order of highest to lowest, here are the results:
6th January: 44%
1st January: 14%
Between Christmas and New Year: 12%
Boxing Day: 5%
End of January: 3%
It looks like tradition wins with 44% taking down their decs on the twelfth night of Christmas, 6th January. Or perhaps we are a very superstitious country? The first day of the New Year is also a popular choice and may even be my favourite. It could be a great New Year ritual to put them away and leave last year behind and start afresh with the New Year.
I’d love to know when the 14% who selected ‘Other’ take theirs down. Perhaps some don’t bother to take them down at all and leave them up all year? Saves the hassle of climbing up into the attic and detangling fairy lights each year I guess!
Bah Humbug to those who take them down on Boxing Day! I know I said I felt like it last year, but I wasn’t Scrooge enough to do it.
You should still feel super festive on Boxing Day and up until New Year so I think all decorations should stay put for at least this week!