When the holidays wind down, there's another question you might ask yourself besides, "Are there any more gingerbread cookies left?," and that's when you should take down your Christmas tree. The task of removing the decorations and hauling a pine-needle-covered tree to the curb, or dismantling an artificial one, can be a little daunting. Do you take it down the day after Christmas, wait until New Year's, or deal with it after the holidays are completely over? Well, lucky for you, there is no "correct" answer for when your tree should come down.
The tradition of Christmas trees is actually based in pagan practices, but over time, it became incorporated into the Christian religion. The practice of having Christmas trees and decorating them the way many people do today can even be traced to the 16th century. Whether you are on the fence about when it's time for your tree to go, have a specific time in mind because of your religion, or just feel antsy about getting it down, here are a few dates and reasons people may take them down when they do.
The Day After Christmas
On Dec. 26, many trees can be seen lining the sidewalks of towns and cities worldwide. There isn't a larger tradition or religious reasoning tied to this day. For some people, it's just that Christmas is officially over and they want to get their tree out and clean up. Having a live tree living in your home can be just another chore. The longer you keep it up, the more the needles drop off of it, which means more cleanup in the long run.
New Year's Eve
With the end of the year in sight, some people take down their tree on Dec. 31. This date isn't tied to a festival or a religious holiday, but for some, it has more of a symbolic meaning. It is a good way to end the year and to start the new one with a fresh slate. If you're superstitious, this is also another great reason to remove your tree on this day: so you won't be caught dragging baggage from last year into the new year!
Jan. 6 or "The Epiphany"
While the roots of the 12 days of Christmas from the famous Christmas carol are murky, we do know the history behind Jan. 5, also known as "Twelfth Night," a festival Christian groups celebrate as the culmination of 12 days of honoring the birth of Jesus. It takes place the day before "The Epiphany."
The day after Twelfth Night is also known as "Three Kings Day," or "El Día de los Reyes" in Latinx culture. For Christians, this date is a feast day and is the official end of the holiday season. On this day, Christians celebrate when the three wise men paid their respects to the baby Jesus. In the Bible, the three wise men traveled for 12 days across the desert, following a star in the sky to Bethlehem. On the 12th day, they arrived and brought symbolic gifts: frankincense, gold, and myrrh. Removing the tree on this day is a way of celebrating the official end of the holiday season.
The overall message here? Whatever day you want to take down your Christmas tree is fine — the choice is yours!
— Additional reporting by Lauren Harano