Christmas is not officially over just yet, according to Christian tradition. Not until the Twelfth Night should people be taking down their festive lights and decorations
Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
For some, the idea of going into a new year with Christmas decorations still up just feels a little strange.
Lots of people like to get rid of them as soon as they can after Boxing Day, some believe December is the perfect time to do it, but others follow tradition and leave them up a little while longer.
A traditional Christian festival dictates that lights and decorations should be taken down later than many people expect and this is known as Twelfth Night.
The meaning of this is different for lots of different types of Christians throughout the world.
So what is Twelfth Night and when should you take down your Christmas decorations?
When should I take my Christmas decorations down?
According to the Christian tradition, the Twelfth Night marks the end of Christmas festivities; 12 days after December 25 is January 5.
The Twelfth Night festival is also used to mark the beginning of the Epiphany, which begins on January 6.
The famous William Shakespeare play Twelfth Night takes its name from the day. Some scholars believe the shenanigans in the play are a reference to the attitudes surrounding the festival, a time in which the holiday spirit takes over. A little bit like the phrase “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”.
The full title of the play is ‘Twelfth Night, or What You Will’.
What is Twelfth Night?
The Epiphany is another festival, as Britannica explains: “In the Western church the festival primarily commemorates the visit by the Magi to the infant Jesus, which is seen as evidence that Christ, the Jewish Messiah, came also for the salvation of Gentiles.”
A Gentile is a non-Jewish person and the Magi are the three wise men we know well from traditional Christmas nativity stories.
Other Christian groups also consider the 12 days to start from Boxing Day and so January 6 is also the date for them.
The Epiphany, which translates literally as ‘revealed’, is considered the most important date by some parts of the church. Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas from their Christmas Eve on January 6.
January 7 in countries such as Belarus, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, Russia and Ukraine is a public holiday.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.