Have you ever seen a curbed fir tree the day after Christmas? Take down your tree and lights too early and it can feel disheartening and pitiful. Leave them up for too long and they can turn into fire hazards, eyesores, and even bad luck.
The perfect time seems to lie somewhere in between December 31st and January 9th. For many Americans, Christmas starts the day after Thanksgiving, and so it’s understandable why many tire of the holiday season by New Years.
According to tradition though, Christmas decorations get taken down on January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany, or a few days after depending on whether you also celebrate the Baptism of the Lord.
When Is the Right Time to Take Down Christmas Lights, Trees, and Other Decorations?
If you don’t want bad luck in 2018, pay attention to the day you get rid of your Christmas tree, lights, and other Christmas decorations.
According to superstition, tree spirits reside in your tree, holly, ivy, and other Christmas vegetation. If you keep them trapped in the home after January 6th, they are said to take revenge out on the harvests and vegetation for the next 12 months. If you are superstitious and want a lush, green new year, don’t leave the tree up past the Epiphany (Jan. 6th).
Leaving your Christmas tree, lights, and other decorations up after January 6th is considered bad luck by many… and illegal by some. There are some places in the US where homeowners can get fined for leaving up Christmas lights past a certain date.
In addition to many HOA (Home Owners Association) agreements and fines for infractions, you may run into trouble with some municipalities such as San Diego and Aurora, IL. Leave lights up past February 2nd in San Diego and you could be subject to a $250 fine. In Aurora, Illinois, you can get a fine if you leave up outdoor Christmas lights past February 24th, even if they are not lit. Learn more interesting facts about Christmas lights.
Traditional Dates to Take Down Christmas Lights and Decorations
According to tradition, trees and other decorations are removed on January 6th, the day after the 12th day of Christmas, also known as the Epiphany, Feast of the Three Kings. If you also celebrate the Baptism of the Lord, you may wait a couple days beyond Epiphany.
Since the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is normally celebrated on the Sunday after the Epiphany, many Catholics wait until the Monday after to remove all the Christmas decorations. If the Epiphany falls on a Sunday, the Baptism is pushed to Monday, meaning some families may wait until Tuesday to remove all the Christmas decorations. This would push back the day to remove Christmas decorations to January 8th or January 9th. According to the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar, this is when Ordinary Time officially begins, after the Baptism of the Lord.
Another fairly common day to remove Christmas decorations is January 1st, the 8th Day of Christmas, also known as the Solemnity of Mary. This marks the end of Christmas feast proper.
Some churches, however, celebrate Christmas as late as February 2nd, marking the end of a 40-day “Christmastide” corresponding to the 40 days of Lent. In this older tradition, Christmas officially ends on Candlemas (Feb. 2nd), aka the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary or the Presentation of the Lord. February 2nd is said to be the day Mary entered the temple with baby Jesus, fulfilling Simeon’s prophesy about Mary and Child, bringing a light for the Gentiles.
The Twelve Days of Christmas
January 5th, the Twelfth Night, also known as the “Eve of Epiphany,” marks the end of the 12 Days of Christmas.
While most families don’t celebrate the completion of the 12 Days of Christmas, everyone knows the song. Traditionally, there are 12 days of gift giving, starting on December 25th and ending on January 5, the Eve of the Epiphany. There are many churches that also celebrate January 6th as the feast of Epiphany, corresponding to the coming of the magi.
Traditionally, Christmas trees were brought into the home on Christmas Eve and burned on January 6th. English tradition would gather the greens and create a big bonfire in honor of the coming of the magi.
While many churches take down their trees, lights, and decorations on January 6th, some people wait until a few days after Epiphany, depending on whether they celebrate the baptism of Jesus.
When to Take Down Christmas Decorations Recap:
December 31st – corresponding to a desire not to bring the baggage from last year into the new year.
January 1st – corresponding to the “octave” of Christmas (8th Day of Christmas), January 1st, the Solemnity of Mary.
January 5th – corresponding to the 12th Day of Christmas, the Eve of the Epiphany.
January 6th – corresponding to the Epiphany, also known as the Feast of the Three Kings.
January 8th or 9th – corresponding to the day after the Baptism of the Lord (usually, the Sunday after Epiphany, when Ordinary Time begins).
February 2nd – corresponding to an older tradition that celebrates Christmas until Candlemas, marking the completion of 40 days of Lent.
Make sure you check your city for scheduled Christmas tree pick-up and recycling dates. You may need to arrange for a special pickup.
Trees and Lights Can Turn into Fire Hazards
In addition to bad luck and religious reasons to take down your Christmas trees, lights, and other decorations by January 8th, there’s also a big safety reason. Christmas trees can dry out and become a huge fire hazard:
If you live in the DFW area, check out these wonderful professional and residential Christmas light displays and events in Dallas/Fort Worth.
The Perfect Light wishes you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Contact The Perfect Light for help removing your Christmas lights and for Hassle-Free Christmas, Outdoor, and Event Lighting:
- Dallas/Fort Worth, TX – 972-304-3330
- Houston, TX – (281) 296-7777
- San Antonio, TX – (210) 920-7777
- Austin, TX – (512) 379-7777
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