When does Christmas officially end?

26 December 2023, 15:00

When should you take down the Christmas decorations?
When should you take down the Christmas decorations? Picture: Alamy

Should you take the tree down once Boxing Day is over? Or do you keep your decorations up until New Year? Radio X looks at the "official" rules...

Radio X

By Radio X

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Christmas. When you're a kid, it seems to take ages to arrive - and when you're an adult, the days just whizz by.

But the big question is: what's the etiquette for calling time on Christmas? Should you be striking down the tree and decorations on Boxing Day, or can you leave them up a bit longer? And is it "bad luck" to keep the house all Christmassy for too long?

Let's look at the "rules" of the festive period...

An Advent Calendar, yesterday
An Advent Calendar, yesterday. Picture: Alamy

Does Christmas start on 1st December?

Well, no. We know that advent calendars kick off on the first day of the month, and each day you get a nice piece of chocolate (or gin, depending on your age/preference) for your trouble. But advent is the season of preparation for the nativity. "Adventus" is latin for "coming" or "arrival", so by rights you shouldn't be doing anything just yet... apart from getting ready for Chrimbo.

When does Christmas officially start?

The first day of Christmas is actually on the 25th of December. That's why the night before is called Christmas Eve, right? Christmas Day is the day Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus.

A typical Christmas scene
A typical Christmas scene. Picture: Alamy

What are the 12 Days Of Christmas?

The old song was originally a memory game for children, but was first officially published in 1780. In the game, you have to remember each item as the list gets longer and longer.

The twelve items you have to remember are...

  1. A Partridge in a Pear Tree
  2. Two Turtle Doves
  3. Three French Hens
  4. Four Calling/Colly Birds
  5. Five Golden Rings
  6. Six Geese-a-Laying
  7. Seven Swans-a-Swimming
  8. Eight Maids-a-Milking
  9. Nine Ladies Dancing
  10. Ten Lords-a-Leaping
  11. Eleven Pipers Piping
  12. Twelve Drummers Drumming
A partridge in a pear tree (of course)
A partridge in a pear tree (of course). Picture: Alamy

When does Christmas officially end?

In the Christian faith, Christmas ends on Twelfth Night, which falls on the 5th January - that is, twelve nights including Christmas night.

The Christmas period is officially over on Epiphany, which is traditionally 6th January. In the story of the Nativity, Epiphany was when the Three Wise Men arrived - and in Spain, kiddies wouldn't get their gifts until the 6th January, to mark the day when the Wise Men arrived in Bethlehem bringing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Imagine THAT.

However you mark Christmas, the rule is that the tree needs to be gone and the decorations packed away again by the 6th. And then we start booking our summer holidays, right?