When to take the Christmas decorations down? Or When Christmas used to last until February!

Many people are back at work or at least thinking of doing so whilst for me, this is actually my first day off of Christmas and it is sooooo nice!   Whilst I am enjoying my Christmas lights in the morning and evening, I have seen more than the odd newspaper report on taking down decorations since New Year.  It all seems a bit forced to me.

Like most things related to our celebration of Christmas, the whole idea of taking down the Christmas decorations on twelfth night on or around the 6th January is an entirely Victorian invention.  The Victorians were amongst the first to embrace a truly capitalist society and to be frank, having the masses sitting around and having too much was a complete hinderance to business and commerce.  That combined with the Church of England wanting to boost attendances for Ephinany meant that the idea that Christmas should be wrapped up early in January came to be the norm.  Even more so, it was perpetuated that it was bad luck to keep them up to 13 nights or longer.

epiphany-2013-wishes

Prior to this, the Christmastide season actually lasted until Candlemas on 2nd February.  Recently though Christmas has moved ever forward, whilst Christmas Day itself used to be at the middle or at least the beginning of festivities, now it is almost at the very end.

Commercial and secular pressures now mean in many ways Christmas starts in mid-November which is around a month before it was when I was growing up in the 1980’s when rebels might put their decorations up a week or so before Christmas rather than the traditional Christmas Eve.  Would any of the classic Christmas movies be quite so atmospheric if characters were rushing around to buy presents or their tree soon after Halloween?  Probably not.

These days many people pull their decorations down at New Year, only half way through even the Victorian 12 nights and some on my street even take them down if not on Boxing Day (26th) then the 27th or 28th December.  Admittedly these are often the people who for some reason have their decorations up in November.

I’ve never been one to be quick in taking down my decorations down quickly.  If only for the very practical reason in Britain in winter, it is so dark, cold and even miserable.  Who wouldn’t want to keep things going for at least a little while longer?

The whole idea of January being dark and dreary takes on a different outlook if you keep Christmas going a bit longer.   Perhaps don’t keep everything up to the 2nd of February but maybe a few token lights and sprigs of holly and of course candles for Candlemas, my candles are never really off from October until March.

Taking a more old-fashioned approach even makes more sense with regards to that stupid idea of New Years Resolutions.  Even the most ardent believer would agree that all of a sudden becoming strict on food or exercise on the 1st or 2nd of January is about the worst time possible, even if you don’t keep the whole Christmas festivities going to the twelfth night.

1st-sunday-advent-uk

The four candles of Advent

Really the whole Christmas period is very well marked.  Advent doesn’t start on December 1st no matter how many chocolate calendars are in the shops.    Advent starts on the Sunday nearest the Feast of St. Andrew and must cover 4 Sunday which means it can start any time from 2th November.   Similarly, you then have Christmas Day on the 25th which is just the starting point on the 12 day ‘Feast’ which the Victorians decided to conclude on Epiphany which is the day on which the Magi (3 wise men or 3 kings) arrived.

Don’t let the faceless forces of commercialism force you to do what it wants you to do.  Don’t let work force you to forgo happiness and become all serious again, try and keep the Christmas spirit going until February as was always the case.   Then if you really must, use Lent to go on that diet and give up food, sweets, drinks and take up a bit more exercise.  Even on the logical level, it makes more sense to do so in spring than in the very depth of winter.

It’s not often that being traditional can make you something of a rebel but this is one of those times.  Bringing down the decorations and getting back into work mode?  Not me, I’m only just getting started!

candlemas

Candlemas – 2nd February the real end of Christmastide.

This is actually my 500th blog post.  Who would have thought I’d still be going (strong?) at this stage!

 

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About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including a #1 seller, I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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20 Responses to When to take the Christmas decorations down? Or When Christmas used to last until February!

  1. i saw my neighbour taking out his christmas tree to the skip yesterday. the tree was shedding its needles. so maybe it is just being practical, the time to take down the decorations is when the tree is shedding its leaves. and it might be most of them dont last over the 12 day after christmas.i think u have an artificial tree, am i right or am i right? haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wonder what date they bought their tree. I’m sure you’re right and if they bought it a week or two before Christmas Eve I imagine it wouldn’t be looking to good after a few weeks. Yes, mine are all artificial 🙂

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      • its funny that the small home trees go bad so quick, whilst i look at the large christmas trees on display around me, there is one outside vauxhall station, and there is another by the street market in pimlico and they are all green and healthy looking even now.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I wonder if it is the central heating or maybe the houses don’t give them enough water? I saw one or two public ones today too and they were all looking as good as new.

          Liked by 1 person

          • oh, good observation that, the central heating will dry the trees out. as for water, i never see them inside a pot, so they are never watered. usually it is just the tree trunk wood jammed and skewered into a vice -like grip on a platform. the outside trees get the rain and all.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. chbrown6 says:

    Its really funny that you posted this today. I literally just took ‘most’ of my Christmas lights down last night. We actually decided to keep some of them up for an extended period of time just because we liked them so much. Since we live in a very rural area, we took down the more Christmassy snowflake lights and candy cane decor but we left some of the lights that decorated our porch. And don’t judge but one of our trees is still up inside. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like your style. That is what I will do, just keep a few lights and candles out and maybe the holly. I will have to put my tree down as I’m already looking after someones pet Lovebird and having two corners of an already crowded living room out of action makes everything a little cramped. Thanks for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Mel & Suan says:

    In Singapore they get taken down immediately on boxing day, to make way for the God of Fortune of the lunar new year! lol

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So many of my neighbors pulled down their candles and wreathes the week after Christmas. Too soon! We used to live in Ripon, N Yorkshire, England, and the cathedral there still celebrates Candlemas on February 2nd– it was a nice marker of the end of the season, and a beautiful, light-filled ceremony that night. Perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, it just seems stupid that on a rare event where you can actually be happy for 12 days and after waiting for weeks or even months, people rip everything down just a day or two after Christmas. I’ve never actually got into Ripon Cathedral though I’ve seen it on television. It sounds wonderful.

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  5. Rosemarie says:

    I used to put my decorations up on Thanksgiving and leave them up through all of January. I had a lot of decorations and I wanted to fully enjoy them during the darkest part of the year. In 2010 I got my grand piano. I no longer had any room for a Christmas tree and so decorating just stopped. I haven’t had decorations for six years. I do miss them but I don’t miss the job of putting them or even worse, taking them down. Bah humbug!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well a Grand Piano is a pretty nice thing to have in your room. I know what you mean, putting the decorations up and down is a big pain. I have an artificial tree and that means all the branches have to be pushed in and pulled out and somehow made to fit inside the impossibly small box as well!

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  6. Congratulations on 500 posts! I’m looking forward to your next 500! Merry extended Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. To be honest I like all the Christmas stuff put away by the new year – otherwise it doesn’t feel like the new year can really begin afresh!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Stephen, you must have been driving by my house recently here in South Carolina. My tree is still up, and I was thinking about taking it down this weekend. But now that you mention it, why not wait till Candlemas Day? The tree lights do brighten the dismal winter evenings. Congratulations on your 500th blog. You have staying power.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Bill, congratulations on keeping to the old ways, even if my accident! I think you may as well leave it up for another week seeing as you got this far. It is so true, I see everyone have their dark, dreary homes and mine is still lit up, mostly with candles now as they seem atmospheric. Thank-you, to think I thought I might run out of subjects after a week or two!

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  9. Nice post ! You aare writing really interesting 🙂
    I invite to my Christmas posts. F. ex. Christmas in Madrid:
    https://traveltomeetyourheart.wordpress.com/2017/01/12/madrid-in-the-christmas-period-belen-and-christmas-markets/

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