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?

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  1. Profile photo of PJS Reagan
    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.

    • #1
    • January 3, 2013 at 4:58 am
  2. Profile photo of She Member
    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

    • #2
    • January 3, 2013 at 5:16 am
  3. Profile photo of smp16 Inactive

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

    • #3
    • January 3, 2013 at 6:17 am
  4. Profile photo of Eeyore Member
    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.

    • #4
    • January 3, 2013 at 8:52 am
  5. Profile photo of She Member
    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.

    • #5
    • January 3, 2013 at 9:28 am
  6. Profile photo of Sisyphus Member

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

    • #6
    • January 3, 2013 at 9:37 am
  7. Profile photo of Whiskey Sam Inactive

    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.

    • #7
    • January 3, 2013 at 9:41 am
  8. Profile photo of RyanM Coolidge

    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.

    • #8
    • January 3, 2013 at 9:49 am
  9. Profile photo of Joseph Stanko Member

    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.

    • #9
    • January 3, 2013 at 9:56 am
  10. Profile photo of Aaron Miller Member

    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.

    • #10
    • January 3, 2013 at 9:56 am
  11. Profile photo of Western Chauvinist Member

    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.

    • #11
    • January 3, 2013 at 9:58 am
  12. Profile photo of Susan in Seattle Member

    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.

    • #12
    • January 3, 2013 at 10:06 am
  13. Profile photo of Joseph Stanko Member
    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.

    • #13
    • January 3, 2013 at 10:07 am
  14. Profile photo of EJHill Member

    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!

    • #14
    • January 3, 2013 at 10:12 am
  15. Profile photo of Joseph Stanko Member
    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.

    • #15
    • January 3, 2013 at 10:25 am
  16. Profile photo of Jack Dunphy Contributor
    Jack Dunphy Post author

    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.

    • #16
    • January 3, 2013 at 10:25 am
  17. Profile photo of Gus Marvinson Inactive

    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.

    • #17
    • January 3, 2013 at 10:27 am
  18. Profile photo of Eeyore Member

    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.

    • #18
    • January 3, 2013 at 10:35 am
  19. Profile photo of RyanM Coolidge
    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).

    • #19
    • January 3, 2013 at 11:16 am
  20. Profile photo of Mollie Hemingway Contributor

    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.

    • #20
    • January 3, 2013 at 11:56 am
  21. Profile photo of John Grant Contributor

    Hi Joseph,

    This is interesting–I didn’t know about this.

    In the traditional Roman rite, Christmastide ends on February the 2nd (the Feast of the Purification or Candlemas).

    Another post-1965 change with no good reason behind it–undoing centuries of tradition.

    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. · 15 hours ago

    • #21
    • January 4, 2013 at 2:02 am
  22. Profile photo of Pseudodionysius Member
    John Grant: Hi Joseph,

    This is interesting–I didn’t know about this.

    In the traditional Roman rite, Christmastide ends on February the 2nd (the Feast of the Purification or Candlemas).

    Another post-1965 change with no good reason behind it–undoing centuries of tradition.

    The reason the Ordinary Form calendar does this is because they also eliminated Quinqagesima, Septuagesima and Sexagesima Sundays which means there’s no longer the pre Lenten build up before Lent.

    • #22
    • January 4, 2013 at 2:24 am
  23. Profile photo of John Grant Contributor

    Interesting. Diminish the joy of Christmastide (formerly a 40 day season) and the penance of the season leading to Lent. Of course Lent has been worn down to almost nothing in terms of practice–two days of fast!

    Pseudodionysius
    John Grant: Hi Joseph,

    This is interesting–I didn’t know about this.

    In the traditional Roman rite, Christmastide ends on February the 2nd (the Feast of the Purification or Candlemas).

    Another post-1965 change with no good reason behind it–undoing centuries of tradition.

    The reason the Ordinary Form calendar does this is because they also eliminated Quinqagesima, Septuagesima and Sexagesima Sundays which means there’s no longer the pre Lenten build up before Lent. · 5 minutes ago

    • #23
    • January 4, 2013 at 2:33 am
  24. Profile photo of Pseudodionysius Member

    O Magnum Mysterium is a responsorial chant from the Matins of Christmas. A number of composers have reworked the chant into a contemporary setting; the settings by Byrd, Victoria, Gabrieli, Palestrina, Poulenc, Judith Bingham, Harbison, La Rocca, Mäntyjärvi, Pierre Villette, Morales and Lauridsen are notable.

    Latin text

    O magnum mysterium,et admirabile sacramentum,ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,jacentem in praesepio!Beata Virgo, cujus viscerameruerunt portareDominum Christum.Alleluia. English translationO great mystery,and wonderful sacrament,that animals should see the new-born Lord,lying in a manger!Blessed is the Virgin whose wombwas worthy to bearChrist the Lord.Alleluia!
    • #24
    • January 4, 2013 at 3:01 am
  25. Profile photo of Joseph Stanko Member
    John Grant: Interesting. Diminish the joy of Christmastide (formerly a 40 day season) and the penance of the season leading to Lent. Of course Lent has been worn down to almost nothing in terms of practice–two days of fast!
    Pseudodionysius
    John Grant: Another post-1965 change with no good reason behind it–undoing centuries of tradition.

    The reason the Ordinary Form calendar does this is because they also eliminated Quinqagesima, Septuagesima and Sexagesima Sundays which means there’s no longer the pre Lenten build up before Lent.

    I think one of the motivations for these changes was to extend the season of “ordinary time” to long enough to permit reading basically an entire Gospel in sequential order over the Sundays of the year.

    Personally I like the new lectionary, though I agree much was lost in the break with tradition.

    • #25
    • January 4, 2013 at 7:46 am
  26. Profile photo of Casey Member

    I’m with you, Jack. Undecorating is the worst chore of the year. I dabble with some of the smaller stuff after the New Year but don’t do the full job until the weekend after. 48 hours from now I’ll be miserable. But in truth that’s the way I want it. I don’t ever want to tire of Christmas so better to leave myself wanting more.

    • #26
    • January 4, 2013 at 7:58 am
  27. Profile photo of Pseudodionysius Member

    I think one of the motivations for these changes was to extend the season of “ordinary time” to long enough to permit reading basically an entire Gospel in sequential order over the Sundays of the year.

    If you type “Bugnini and Septuagesima” into Google you will get a full page of hits on very scholarly work on why those changes were made. I am decidedly not a fan of the changes as you can tell, and would likely violate the Code of Conduct if I attempted to explain this morning why not. 

    • #27
    • January 4, 2013 at 8:07 am
  28. Profile photo of Pseudodionysius Member

    The seventy-day period that begins with Septuagesima recalls the seventy-year exile of the children of Israel in Babylon. Seventy is the perfect number, signifying that God has fixed for us a delay of mercy to pass from the anguish of sinful Babylon to the beatitude of Jerusalem. “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” (Ps 136:4). We do well to recall Pope John Paul II’s assertion that, “the power that imposes a limit on evil is Divine Mercy.” The seventy days before Pascha signify this, and so become a season of hope for all who sit and weep by the waters of Babylon (cf. Ps 136:1).

    ..

    The Pastoral Wisdom of Septuagesima

    In the traditional Roman Rite Septuagesima Sunday is marked by putting away the Alleluia; the Gloria is omitted and, already, violet vestments are used in preparation for Lent. Sound psychology and practical pastoral wisdom indicate the need for a kind of countdown before Ash Wednesday. Otherwise Lent arrives all of a sudden, finding us flustered and frightfully ill prepared.

    Completely unrelated so don’t make anything out of it: American Babylon.

    • #28
    • January 4, 2013 at 8:18 am
  29. Profile photo of Mollie Hemingway Contributor

    For what it’s worth, my Lutheran congregation does the whole Septuagesima countdown thing — putting away the alleluias and all that.

    • #29
    • January 4, 2013 at 8:28 am
  30. Profile photo of Pseudodionysius Member
    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.: For what it’s worth, my Lutheran congregation does the whole Septuagesima countdown thing — putting away the alleluias and all that. · 4 minutes ago

    My family knows better than to raise the topic with me, because I’ll rant for hours.

    • #30
    • January 4, 2013 at 8:34 am
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