An age-old tradition says that Christmas lasts for 12 days after December 25 and the tree must be taken down on the twelfth day which is also called the day of Epiphany. Taking the tree down a day before or day after supposedly brings bad luck.
Christmas has come and gone. We are already in 2020 which means the holiday season is over and we need to start coming back to reality. But if this sad realization is stopping you from taking down the festive decorations around the house, especially the Christmas tree, then you may not be entirely off the mark. Firstly, because a lot of work has gone into putting it all up, then there are the memories created with family while doing said work, and finally, so you can push the festivities a little longer. Most importantly, there is actually an exact date the holidays come to an end and no, it's not on the day of Christmas. It is on the day of the Epiphany.
According to Christian theology, Christmas starts four weeks ahead of December 25 and lasts for 12 days after. The days leading up to Christmas is called Advent. The 12 days after Christmas is said to be the period when the three wise men came to visit baby Jesus in the manger bearing gifts. The three kings are also known as the Magi and brought with them gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The last day of this period falls on January 5 or 6 depending on whether you count Christmas day as day one or not, and is called the day of Epiphany.
Epiphany is Jan. 6, you heathens— sarah kelly (@thesarahkelly) 26 December 2019
On the day of Epiphany or the Twelfth Night is when tradition dictates you take your tree down as it marks the last day of Christmas. Legend has it that those who do not take the tree down on the day of Epiphany will suffer bad luck as a consequence. The tree must not be taken down a day before or a day after in order to avoid misfortune.
According to the Express, superstition states, not taking down the tree would result in food shortages and stunting of vegetation growth throughout the year.
Jan 6: Feast of the Epiphany, the adoration of the magi, described as noble druids (druid uaisle) in Mart. Gorman pic.twitter.com/mgG9UuRGJG— Peritia (@PeritiaEditors) 6 January 2017
The Christmas tree tradition dates back to 1441 and 1510 to the cities of Tallinn and Riga where the tree was used as a part of a pagan ritual to celebrate Winter Solstice. Romans used it to celebrate the festival of Saturnalia, while the Christians used the tree "to commemorate the everlasting life with God." The tradition of actually using a fir tree for Christmas was started in Latvia in the 15th and 16th centuries. But the popularity of the Christmas tree rose in the UK thanks to Queen Victoria around the 1840s. But the tradition took longer to be accepted by Americans who looked down on the pagan practice. It was only by the 1890s that Christmas trees started rising in popularity in the US.
According to the Chronicle, it was believed in the past that tree spirits resided in the Christmas tree during the winter and had to be released once Christmas was over. Failing to do so would result in loss of vegetation. On a less macabre note, it is also stated that the Christmas tree had to stay up for the duration of 12 days to provide navigation for the Magi. Since the three kings used the North Star for locating Jesus, Christmas traditions state that the holiday decoration represents the star the kings use to reach Jesus in Bethlehem. Without the Christmas decor, the kings will be unable to make their way to the son of God to whom they must present their gifts.