Here’s the Right Day to Take Down Your Christmas Tree, According to History

published Jan 4, 2020
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Credit: Cathy Pyle

Everyone has a different opinion about when to take down the Christmas tree (not to mention when to put it up). If each year you find your tree is still up as the New Year is nearing, fret not! Not only is the timing of Christmas decorations a completely personal choice, but there is also some historical justification for leaving up Christmas trees through this weekend, at least.

Quick Overview

When to Take Down the Christmas Tree

Religious tradition views Christmas as a 12-day-long holiday, so there is historical justification to leave your tree up until January 5 or 6. Some believe that leaving decor up too long after Twelfth Night is bad luck, but ultimately, however you celebrate and for how long is entirely up to you.

If you think of Christmas as a 12-day-long holiday, as many Christians have since the 4th century, according to Good Housekeeping, then the Christmas season is still going strong well into the first week of January. It ends after the 12th day, otherwise known as the Eve of the Epiphany, which falls on either January 5 or January 6, depending on whether you start counting 12 days on Christmas or the day after. Some Eastern Orthodox Christians even celebrate the Epiphany on January 19, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, because they celebrate Christmas on January 7.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

Good Housekeeping explains, “Although Christian groups reportedly disagree over which date is the correct one, tradition dictates that the Twelfth Night is the best time to take down your festive decorations — including your tree. It’s believed that waiting too long after the Twelfth Night will bring bad luck.”

So if it’s well after Christmas day and a family member or busybody neighbor is giving you the side-eye for still having your decorations up, you can tell them the Christmas season hasn’t officially ended yet. Really, historical justification or not, however you celebrate the holiday and for how long is totally up to you. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.