When should you take down your Christmas tree and decorations?

  • Traditionally, Christmas trees and decorations are taken down on the Twelfth Night

  • This will fall on 5 January or 6 January 2024, depending on whether you count 25 December as day one

  • Keeping festive decorations up for longer is often considered to be bad luck

  • Read on to learn more about why we decorate for Christmas – and what it says about you if you take yours down earlier

Woman's hands and Christmas tree with baubles, representing her taking them down. (Getty Images)
When do you usually take down your Christmas tree? (Getty Images)

The period between Christmas and New Year (sometimes dubbed "Twixmas") often gets people wondering about when to take down the tree and any lingering festive decorations.

But the good news is, if you can't see yourself getting off the sofa any time soon, or you just want to bask in the festivity a little longer, there's no need to rush.

While of course it's really up to you when you de-Christmas your home – whether that's after pulling the last cracker or weeks later – here's what tradition says about the right date to do it if you want to avoid 'bad luck'.

When should you take down your Christmas decor?

Christmas tree remains being swept away on floor. (Getty Images)
We're not officially meant to take anything down until January. (Getty Images)

If your household is divided on when to say goodbye to your tree and decorations, looking to Christian tradition could prove useful.

For many, 12 nights after Christmas, known as the Twelfth Night or the Eve of Epiphany, is considered the end of the holiday.

So, officially, this will fall on 5 January or 6 January 2024, depending on whether Christmas is counted as day one or not.

The Epiphany or Three Kings' Day on 6 January, is described as a Christian feast day that celebrates how a star led the Wise Men to visit baby Jesus after his birth, with 'epiphany' meaning 'to reveal'.

Leaving Christmas decorations up any longer after this is widely considered to be unlucky. But for those who choose to whip decorations straight down, what does this say about us?

"You may be the kind of person who enjoys the lead-up and anticipation of Christmas more than anything else," explains Dr Elena Touroni, a consultant psychologist and co-founder of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic. "Or maybe you feel a sense of sadness that it is over and you don’t want to be reminded of it."

Alternatively, Dr Touroni suggests it could just mean you like to be organised and see it as a task that you want to complete as soon as possible.

Why do we decorate for Christmas?

Couple putting up Christmas decorations. (Getty Images)
The tradition started many years ago. (Getty Images)

For a reminder of why we put up Christmas trees and decorations in the first place, the custom can actually be traced back centuries, through both history and religion.

For thousands of years, both Pagans and Christians would bring in evergreen trees to celebrate winter festivals.

For Pagans, they were put up during the winter solstice (the shortest day and longest night of the year), with their branches a reminder that spring was just around the corner.

Meanwhile, Romans would decorate temples at the festival of Saturnalia (honouring the agricultural god Saturn) with fir trees. And for Christians, these trees represented resilience and were used as a sign of everlasting life with God.

Over time this morphed into the Christmas tree tradition we see today.

Christians in Germany are heavily credited for starting this, as many of them began decorating trees that they brought in from outside. Those who couldn’t afford a tree or didn’t have access to one would get creative and make their own using wooden pyramids.

Some of their first Christmas trees were actually decorated with sweets, such as gingerbread men and gold-covered apples.

And when it comes to festive lights, the tradition can be traced all the way back to Yule, a Norse tradition celebrating midwinter.

This tradition involved drinking 'yule', a type of beer, while watching the Yule log burn. Lighting it was believed to call for the return of the sun while also driving away evil spirits.

In Christian terms, it’s been argued that this idea represents Jesus lighting up the darkness.

Watch: Christmas-loving Brits vow to light up the UK this season despite crippling energy costs

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