Christmas is over for another year - but when should you take down your decorations?
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It’s supposedly bad luck to keep your Christmas decorations up too long.
Traditionally, the tinsel is supposed to go back in the attic by Twelfth Night – but what and when, exactly, is Twelfth Night?
It turns out opinion is divided on the subject.
What is Twelfth Night?
Twelfth Night is the last night of the Twelve Days of Christmas, as immortalised in the carol.
Many people assume the 12 Days mark the run-up to Christmas, with December 25 marking the 12th Day and the arrival of all those drummers, lords, swans, maids and peartree-dwelling game birds.
In fact, the opposite is true. Twelfth Night actually marks the end of the Christmas period and the coming of the Epiphany, the feast day commemorating the visit of the Magi to the new-born Jesus, in Western Christianity.
When is Twelfth Night?
Different Christian traditions consider Twelfth Night to be either January 5 or 6, according to which day is considered to be the first day of Christmas – Christmas Day itself or Boxing Day.
The Church of England regards Christmas Day as the first of the 12 days, so Twelfth Night falls on January 5.
But other denominations, including Roman Catholicism, start counting the days after Christmas, so Twelfth Night falls on January 6.
Which definition you choose is up to you, but if you REALLY don’t want to take the risk, then January 5 is probably the best bet.
Is it unlucky to leave your decorations up too late?
The belief that it is unlucky to leave your decorations up after Twelfth Night is a relatively recent one.
Originally, Candlemas – February 2 – was the preferred date. it marks Jesus’ presentation at the Temple of Jerusalem, 40 days after his birth, in accordance with Jewish tradition.
So if you don’t get round to to packing everything away on January 5 (or 6), then maybe best leave them up ‘til then.
Of course, February 2 is also Groundhog Day, so you just might find they’re back up in the morning.