There’s now an official reason to procrastinate even longer on taking down your Christmas tree
Listen, pretty much everyone procrastinates when it comes to taking down Christmas decorations. Those people who have a sparkling clean, decoration-free home come Dec. 26 are the weird ones, not those of us who are still shamefully harboring a Christmas tree in our living room corners on New Year’s Eve. But there’s now good news for us: According to tradition, we’re fully in the right.
Different Christian religions have slightly different rules here, but tradition offers up these general guidelines for the timeline of keeping a Christmas tree up and decorated: Put the tree up at the beginning of advent, which is the fourth Sunday before Christmas, and take it down on the Epiphany, which is 12 days after Christmas. Yes, that’s right — that means you could be looking at close to six weeks of tree time without feeling an ounce of shame about your procrastinating ways, because you’re just following tradition. You’re welcome.
According to this tradition, which dates all the way back to the 4th century, Epiphany is the day that marks when the three wise men/kings arrived in Bethlehem with gifts for the newborn baby Jesus. It’s generally celebrated on the 5th or 6th day of January, because there’s some debate among different religious groups about whether you start counting the 12 days of their journey on Christmas Day, or the day after.
Either way, that means that for at least five more days, the pressure is off. Pour that mug of cocoa. Kick back. Bask in the softly twinkling lights of your Christmas tree. You put that sucker up. You deserve to enjoy it for as long as possible.
Of course, tradition or not, the only person who should be deciding when your Christmas tree goes up and comes down is you. If you’re feeling the motivation and want to get started on your post-holiday cleaning now, then power to you — take it down. If you’d rather relax and enjoy your festive decorations for a little longer, you have every right to do that, too. Just make sure that if you have a real tree, you’re giving it plenty of water so it doesn’t dry out and become a fire hazard. Otherwise, the holiday season is your oyster. Leave the tree up all year if you want to. We’re not going to tell you no.