When Is Christmas Over?

While walking the Dunphy dog through the neighborhood this past weekend I was saddened to see that a nearby house, which had been riotously bedecked with every type of Christmas decoration imaginable, had been stripped of any trace of its Yuletide glories.  Why not wait at least until after New Year’s Day, I wondered. 

Here in the Dunphy house we are hanging on to the Christmas season to the last moment, leaving our tree, lights, and decorations in place until the Feast of the Epiphany, which falls on Jan. 6.  But I confess that even then I’ll be loath to see an abrupt end to such a joyous season.  I’m listening to Handel’s “Messiah” even now as I write this, and I sometimes listen to Christmas music at various times throughout the year.  We picked a good tree this year and it’s holding it’s needles well, but next week we’ll have to take down the ornaments and toss it in the bin, a bittersweet exercise for us every year.

When does the Christmas season end at your house, and what will you miss about it?

  1. PJS

    Once there was an ice storm and the Christmas decorations were frozen to the house until mid-spring. It was a little embarrassing, but since we live down a long driveway in the woods only the neighbors with whom we share it knew my secret.

  2. She
    Eeyore: The multi-course meal would be finished off with the bearing in of a magnificent sweetbread shaped into a boars head and carried aloft into the room to the tune of the Boars Head Carol.

    Many years ago, Dad did an actual boar’s head for the Christmas festivities.  (His father was managing director of S Ward, Purveyor of Fine Meats in Birmingham, England, and Dad never lost his touch, whether it was beef, sausages, or curing hams in the garage).  He nobbled his long-suffering butcher in Bethel Park, PA,  for the ‘doings,’ and spent days boiling, picking, stuffing, refrigerating and decorating.  This was the result (it was actually delicious):

    boar.jpg

  3. smp16

    We leave decorations up through January 6, but depending on how busy everyone is, it’s not unusual for them to be up longer.

  4. Eeyore
    She

    boar_lightbox.jpgMany years ago, Dad did an actual boar’s head for the Christmas festivities…

    At first I thought the presentation simply delightfully dramatic. However, after re-reading your and then the The Telegraph’s remembrance of the good DO, I could imagine nothing less. We could use his spine today.

  5. She
    Eeyore

    She

    Many years ago, Dad did an actual boar’s head for the Christmas festivities…

    At first I thought the presentation simply delightfully dramatic. However, after re-reading your and then the The Telegraph’s remembrance of the good DO, I could imagine nothing less. We could use his spine today. · 31 minutes ago

    Thank you for that.  We could use him, my wonderful mother-in-law and so many, from all of our families, who are not with us any more.

    To absent friends and loved ones everywhere.

  6. Sisyphus

    Christmas is over when we start referring to it as the Easter Tree.

  7. Whiskey Sam

    I was scarred as a child by neighbors who left their tree up year round and just threw a sheet over it from Jan-Nov.  My stuff gets put away Dec 26.

  8. Ryan M

    While Corelli’s Christmas Concerto does make the occasional appearance at other times of year, I typically try to keep my Christmas music seasonal only, in order to make it all that more special.  We also have a few foods that only get made during Christmas.  Not because they wouldn’t be delicious elsewhere, but because it makes the season even more festive.  That said, Messiah is such a beautiful piece, I don’t blame you.  I save the majority of it for Christmas, but the overture gets played periodically throughout the year.  I was violin 2 in a performance of Messiah (just selections) once, and I play along with the music somewhat frequently – it is just too fun.

  9. Joseph Stanko

    I’m still celebrating Christmas.  I took two weeks vacation this year, so I don’t have to return to work until Plow Monday.

    In the current Catholic liturgical calendar the Christmas season officially ends on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the Sunday after Epiphany.  This year it falls on the 13th.

    I believe I read somewhere that in the Anglican Church the Christmas season official ends on Candlemas, Feb 2nd.  Perhaps other readers can confirm or deny this.

  10. Aaron Miller

    I was thinking just a day or two ago that I should make a habit of watching Christmas films throughout the year. Not films like A Christmas Story or Christmas Vacation, but films like The Bishop’s Wife.

    Inspiration is vital. Christmas time, like a mountain-top or cathedral, reminds us of the transcendant. It invites us to be quiet, to calm our hearts, and to share that joyful peace.

    A yearly binge of unbirthdays might be pushing it. But there are other ways.

  11. Western Chauvinist

    It’s all about the light, the light! I’m sure I’m not the only one to notice that we’re still lacking in daylight. The lights stay up and on until about midway between the solstice and the equinox (If I ever became ruler of the universe, it’d be my second edict after banning godless socialism and all its iterations from God’s green Earth). It’s my family’s compromise with me for disallowing Christmas music and movies after the 25th.

  12. Susan in Seattle

    We take down decorations on the 6th of January. As WC said though, “it’s about the light.” We leave some twinkly lights around, both indoors and out, until mid to late February.

  13. Joseph Stanko
    Ryan M: While Corelli’s Christmas Concerto does make the occasional appearance at other times of year, I typically try to keep my Christmas music seasonal only, in order to make it all that more special.  We also have a few foods that only get made during Christmas.  Not because they wouldn’t be delicious elsewhere, but because it makes the season even more festive.  That said, Messiah is such a beautiful piece, I don’t blame you.  I save the majority of it for Christmas, but the overture gets played periodically throughout the year. 

    I agree with you on the merits of keeping music seasonal, but is the Messiah really Christmas music?  It premiered April 13th, 1742, and the words seem just as fitting for the Easter season as for Christmas.

  14. EJHill

    I had a visit from the Christmas faeries this year.

    I had a football game on Thanksgiving weekend and when I returned home there was a decorated tree in my living room. There was also a game a few days ago and when I returned the tree was gone and the living room was clean.

    It was my own personal Christmas miracle!

  15. Joseph Stanko
    Aaron Miller: I was thinking just a day or two ago that I should make a habit of watching Christmas films throughout the year. Not films likeA Christmas Story orChristmas Vacation, but films likeThe Bishop’s Wife.

    Inspiration is vital. Christmas time, like a mountain-top or cathedral, reminds us of the transcendant. It invites us to be quiet, to calm our hearts, and to share that joyful peace.

    A yearly binge of unbirthdays might be pushing it. But there are other ways. · 19 minutes ago

    I agree we need more frequent reminders of the transcendent.  There are dozens of great Christian holy days on the calendar, I’d love to see a few of those dusted off and revived.

    Admittedly a few of our Catholic feast days might not go over so well with the Protestant crowd (Corpus Christi, Assumption, Immaculate Conception), and conversely I’ll take a pass on Reformation Day, but there are plenty of others we ought to all be able to celebrate: Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, St. John the Baptist’s Birthday, Michaelmas, and All Saints.  The Feast of the Annunciation seems like an especially fitting day for pro-lifers to honor.

  16. Jack Dunphy
    C

    For me, the Christmas season ends with the expiration date on the last quart of eggnog in the fridge, which this year falls on Jan. 11.  I will shed a tear as I drink the last drop.

  17. Gus Marvinson

    On December 26 the tree and all decorations get boxed and put back up in the garage rafters. We wait so long because we’re  too tired to box the stuff on Christmas night.

  18. Eeyore

    In a previous life, Epiphany – the Feast of Lights – the 12th day – past all the family get-togethers, would involve an elaborate feast totaling always 12, with tons of candles supplementing the Christmas decorations and music.

    The multi-course meal would be finished off with the bearing in of a magnificent sweetbread shaped into a boars head and carried aloft into the room to the tune of the Boars Head Carol.

    One year, the boar’s head a bit over-proofed, and it had to be borne in to the tune of the Hippopotamus Head Carol, to which it had taken on a true and fair likeness.

  19. Ryan M
    Joseph Stanko

    Ryan M: While Corelli’s Christmas Concerto does make the occasional appearance at other times of year, I typically try to keep my Christmas music seasonal only, in order to make it all that more special.  We also have a few foods that only get made during Christmas.  Not because they wouldn’t be delicious elsewhere, but because it makes the season even more festive.  That said, Messiah is such a beautiful piece, I don’t blame you.  I save the majority of it for Christmas, but the overture gets played periodically throughout the year. 

    I agree with you on the merits of keeping music seasonal, but is the Messiah really Christmas music?  It premiered April 13th, 1742, and the words seem just as fitting for the Easter season as for Christmas. · 59 minutes ago

    Good point.  But I still keep it for Christmas.  Considering the fact that I very nearly listen to a whole year’s worth between Thanksgiving and New Year (although to answer the original question – my Christmas ends a few weeks into January, typically). 

  20. Mollie Hemingway

    We only put up our Christmas tree on Gaudete and will have it up at least until Epiphany, but probably not terribly much after. I’m fine with keeping up the rest of the festivities until Candlemas or so.

    Also, feel free to listen to Handel’s Messiah at any time of year! It’s not properly a Christmas piece anyway, what with the Passion and Resurrection aspects.

Want to comment on stories like these? Become a member today!

You'll have access to:

  • All Ricochet articles, posts and podcasts.
  • The conversation amongst our members.
  • The opportunity share your Ricochet experiences.

Join Today!

Already a Member? Sign In