When to take Christmas tree and decorations down

Thousands of us put our Christmas trees up early this year as we battled the boredom of lockdown.

So we have enjoyed an extra few weeks with pine needles all over our carpets and our cats and dogs climbing all over them.

But as whimsical as the Christmas tree is, there is a spooky theory about what happens if you make the error of leaving it up too long.

It is tradition to take decorations, including trees, down on the Twelfth Night, which falls on January 5 – 12 nights after Christmas.

That has been a staple of a tradition British Christmas sine way back in Victorian times in the 19th century.

A day sooner or later is considered unlucky, and if not removed on Twelfth Night, then they should stay up all year, according to ancient superstition.

In the past it was believed that tree spirits lived in the greenery used to decorate people’s homes. While the festive season provided shelter for these spirits during the winter, they needed to be released outside once Christmas was over, according to folklore.

If the custom wasn’t followed, greenery would not return and vegetation wouldn’t grow, causing agricultural and food problems, it was believed.

In other traditions, the superstition is that if you fail to take down the decorations, goblins will visit your home and sneak through the keyhole, spoil the milk, crack the china and welcome mice and rats to the larder.

The Epiphany comes from the Christian tradition that says Jesus was born on December 25, but the Magi didn’t actually arrive in Bethlehem with presents until January 6.

The Epiphany is the celebration of sharing the word of Jesus.

Children were traditionally told that if decorations were taken down before the Eve of the Epiphany, the wise men might not be able to find their way – because Christmas lights represent the Star of Bethlehem which guided them to Jesus.

  • How should I store my Christmas decorations?

    The festive period often brings unsettled weather and we’ve heard plenty of stories of people losing decades worth of family Christmas decorations to floodwaters because of poor storage in garages and outhouses.

    So if your decorations aren’t going into a loft or attic, make sure they’re stored in a watertight, plastic box – in fact, doing this wherever they are kept will protect them from damp and pests.

    It’s also worth wrapping fragile Christmas ornaments in tissue paper before storage – and, of course, coiling the lights in a neat circle round your arm. Obviously the loft fairies will have tangled them into a mess by next December, but at least you can say you tried.

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