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When Should You Take Down Your Christmas Tree?


A Christmas tree discarded at the curb on the third day of Christmas 2010. (Photo © Amy J. Richert)

A Christmas tree sits discarded at the curb in Spring Lake, Michigan, on the third day of Christmas 2010.

(Photo © Amy J. Richert)

Question: One of saddest sights of Christmas is to see Christmas trees out at the curb on December 26. When should you take down your Christmas tree?

Answer: Traditionally, Catholics did not take down their Christmas trees and other Christmas decorations until January 7, the day after Epiphany. The Twelve Days of Christmas begin on Christmas Day; the period before that is Advent, the time of preparation for Christmas. The twelve days of Christmas end on Epiphany, the day that the Three Wise Men came to pay homage to the Child Jesus.

Because so many people, especially in the United States, treat the Advent season as the "Christmas season," however, the actual Christmas season gets lost. By the time Christmas Day comes, people are ready to pack up the decorations, and the tree—which they might have put up as early as Thanksgiving weekend—is probably past its prime.

If we were to revive the older tradition of putting up the Christmas tree and decorations closer to Christmas (see "When Should You Put Up Your Christmas Tree?"), then we could celebrate Advent to its fullest—and in keeping our decorations up after Christmas Day, we might find a renewed sense of joy in celebrating all Twelve Days of Christmas.

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