As the holiday season winds down, Christmas clean-up inevitably begins. While the thought of vacuuming a gazillion cookie crumbs and tackling all those dirty dishes can be daunting, figuring out when to take down the Christmas tree might just be the toughest task of them all.
If you find yourself stumped over this very question year after year, consider letting tradition be your guide — and don’t let the “how long is too long” debate take over yet another Christmas dinner. Dating back to the 4th century, many Christians have marked the end of the Christmas season on the Twelfth Night (or 12 nights after Christmas) — an evening also known as the Eve of the Epiphany.
The Epiphany marks the day the Three Kings (or Wise Men) visited baby Jesus, and is either celebrated on January 5 or January 6 (depending on whether you count Day One as Christmas or not). Although Christian groups reportedly disagree over which date is the correct one, tradition dictates that the Twelfth Night is the best time to take down your festive decorations — including your tree. It’s believed that waiting too long after the Twelfth Night will bring bad luck.
Of course, all of this to say that you should really take down your Christmas tree when it’s the most convenient time for you and your family. Whether that’s the day after Christmas, New Year’s Eve, or whenever you can get to it, there’s really no “correct” answer. After all, you worked awfully hard hanging up all that tinsel: You should feel free to enjoy it for as long as you want.