When to Take Your Christmas Tree Down, According to Tradition 

Turns out, there’s actually an answer.

National Tree Company 7-Foot Dunhill Fir Artificial Christmas Tree Sale
Photo: Courtesy of Amazon

The timing of putting up a Christmas tree has long been the subject of spirited holiday debate, and everyone's family has their own unique tradition. There are those among us who are avid believers in "no Christmas before Thanksgiving," where nary a carol or twinkle light can be found until the last of the stuffing has been stored. Then there's team "mix and match," where Santa's likeness can be found just around the corner from handprint turkey art.

When to take a Christmas tree down can be just as varied from family to family. Some folks take their trees down right away, and the streets of many a neighborhood are littered with Christmas trees on the first few days of a new year.

But according to religious tradition, there is actually an answer: Christmas trees should stay up until Epiphany.

The Twelve Days of Christmas

While you may not celebrate Epiphany with Catholics, Anglicans, and Orthodox churches, you've been introduced to it whether you know it or not. The idea of the "Twelve Days of Christmas" (and the accompanying earworm of a song) is actually based on the twelve day stretch between Christmas Day and January 6th. This early January date, according to some religious traditions, marks the arrival of the Magi to meet the baby Jesus. In fact, for some members of these faiths, it's only appropriate to wish someone, "Merry Christmas!" between Christmas Day and Epiphany, since the birth of Jesus marks the beginning of the Christmas season, rather than the end.

As such, traditionalists maintain that keeping your tree up until January 6th properly honors each day of the Christmas season, and really, who doesn't want to soak up all the joy they can from this warm, cozy holiday?

Make It Last

To keep your tree long-lasting and help with absorption, make sure that it's freshly cut before it's put into water. Some swear by adding a tablespoon of corn syrup or sugar to the mix, but regular old water usually does the trick. That said, enough water is key, especially in a tree's first few hours in your house. A fresh-cut tree can absorb up to a gallon per hour, so be sure to keep a close eye on the water level to avoid dry branches and needles all over the floor. These days, there are products to help avoid a prematurely crispy conifer. A quick Amazon search will serve up a few options: tall, clear funnels that keep you from Army-crawling under branches with a watering can, and even an electronic alarm that alerts you to your tree's low water level.

Responsible Removal

When it's time for your tree to go, check your city's calendar to see whether they make a special Christmas tree brush collection run. Doing so can avoid the eyesore of a brittle tree sitting at the end of your driveway for weeks on end. Even better, recycle your tree by taking it to a local facility that turns trees into mulch, which you can store until springtime to refresh your flower beds and landscaping.

However you choose to do it, there's no doubt that a glowing, twinkly tree in your family room or den is one of the best parts of the Christmas season. And now that you know you've got clearance to keep it up a few extra days beyond the New Year –– why not?

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