When should you dismantle your Christmas tree? Date decoration comes down – and the tradition of the 12th night explained


Covid has changed some UK Christmas traditions – but if you’re still planning on dismantling your festive decorations in January this is the time

Many Brits are putting their Christmas decorations up earlier than usual in 2021 to keep their spirits up after another tough year of pandemic (Image: Shutterstock)

Now that Christmas Day is really certain in the rearview mirror and the year 2022 has officially started, you may be thinking about taking down your Christmas tree and decorations.

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Twelfth Night is traditionally viewed as the time to put away your balls and tinsel.

But considering how easy it is to forget what day of the week it is and when the Twelfth Night falls during the Christmas season, why do we stop celebrating Christmas on this special day – and what can you do with your Christmas tree?

Here is everything you need to know.

Christmas decorations will be disappearing from the streets of Britain in the coming days (Image: AFP / Getty Images)

When should you dismantle your Christmas tree?

The tradition was really thrown out the window for Christmas 2021, and many people chose to put their Christmas trees and decorations up in November instead of December.

With Omicron’s cases skyrocketing and with much of winter still to come, many people might be able to keep at least some of their decorations beyond the traditional deadline.

But if you’re a staunch traditionalist – or just don’t like the added clutter in your house – you should remove your tinsel, balls, and fairy lights before midnight on Twelfth Night.

There is no definite date for when Twelfth Night should fall, and there is often confusion as to whether it is classified as January 5th or 6th.

This is because it is associated with a religious festival – the festival of Epiphany – and different denominations of Christianity celebrate it on different days.

After Christmas 2020, which was affected by Covid, some Brits let their Christmas lights shine (Image: Shutterstock)

In Anglicanism, the most popular form of Christianity in Britain, the day is marked on January 5th – exactly 12 nights after Christmas night itself.

There is nothing in the Bible that tells people to stop celebrating Christmas that day.

In fact, there are records from the Tudor Dynasty of people celebrating the festival through February.

The reason it is considered the date you remove your decorations is believed to date from the Victorian era – an era that influenced many of our modern festive traditions, such as giving away and receiving Christmas cards.

The reason for this is believed to be that Victorian business people wanted their employees to get back to work earlier.

There is also a popular opinion that it is unfortunate to save your decorations after the Twelfth Night – although it is unclear why this might be the case.

The twelfth night marks the day on which the three kings visited the baby Jesus with gifts made of gold, frankincense and myrrh (Image: Shutterstock)

What are the origins of Twelfth Night?

Twelfth Night comes from the festival of the Epiphany, also known as Epiphany.

It is in the Bible when the Three Wise Men – also known as the Three Wise Men or Three Wise Men – stopped following the North Star and visited the Baby Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

This event marked the moment when Jesus was first revealed to the world.

In fact, the word “epiphany” comes from the Greek and means “to reveal”.

While Epiphany is not a widely celebrated occasion in the UK, it is one of the most important Christmas days in Spain and Latin American countries.

El Dia de los Reyes – as it is known in Spanish-speaking countries – is considered just as important as Christmas, and many people still have a day off, setting off fireworks and exchanging gifts.

For Orthodox Christians living in Eastern Europe, Russia, and Middle Eastern countries like Armenia, Epiphany is the day that Christmas is celebrated.

Both Catholics and Orthodox Christians register on January 6th.

There are a few different ways you can dispose of your Christmas tree in an environmentally friendly way (Image: Getty Images)

What could you do with your Christmas tree?

With environmental awareness stronger than ever, many people are thinking more and more about how their Christmas parties will affect the environment.

In addition to tinsel, Christmas tree balls and – if available – your artificial tree for the next Christmas party, there are also green things that you can make with your real Christmas tree.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) can’t just repot your plant to save it for next Christmas. gives several recommendations for what you could do with your tree.

  • Let rot: If you have enough garden space to let nature take its course, rotting your tree can encourage insects and other wildlife, and improve soil quality
  • Chop or fell the tree: In this way, mulch can be provided for bushes and paths. Some councils and retailers can chop your tree for you. But chopping it up with secateurs gives the same results over a longer period of time
  • Create a dead hedge: A pet friendly option, you could create a garden border with your own tree and the trees donated by neighbors

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