When Does Your Christmas Tree Come Down?

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

All day I've been reading posts on Facebook from friends so proud that their Christmas decorations and tree are no longer taking up valuable living space in their homes. As devout practicing Catholics, in our home we have only just begun to celebrate this blessed Christmas season.

Though commercially, our society would have us believe that Christmas ends on December 25. On the contrary, the celebration has only just begun on that blessed day. Here's the explanation of how the seasons break down according to the catechism of the church...

The Christmas season runs from December 25th until the Baptism of the Lord, January 9. The Octave of Christmas runs from December 25th through January 1st.

Typically here in the USA, the Catholic church celebrates the Advent season from the weekend after Thanksgiving until the Sunday before Christmas. That is why in most Catholic churches in the USA, you don't see the nativity and other related religious artifacts popping up until Christmas Eve. The Christmas SEASON runs from December 25th until the Baptism of Jesus, which is listed on the 2013 calendar as Wednesday, January 9. Because Jesus’ Baptism is not a Holy Day of Obligation, that celebration moves to the following Sunday on the church calendar. Yes, the 12 Days of Christmas go from December 25th through January 5th, and are then followed by the Epiphany, which is also moved to a Sunday for the same reason -- it's not a Holy Day of obligation in the USA.

With virtually no time from between the Advent to Christmas seasons, it’s always a mad rush at Basilica of St. Louis, King (The Old Cathedral) in Saint Louis, Missouri USA for such a small group of experienced volunteers to get the 25 or so fir trees lit up and positioned on the side altars, pine wreaths hung on hooks and centered under each window, red bows and pine cones strategically positioned, 30+ poinsettia plants in their decorative containers to display, the heavy cast iron nativity scene (which dates back to 1800s) out of storage and into place, and extra candles lined up around the altars.

These are just some snapshots taken on my iPhone at The Old Cathedral this Christmas. The finished product is much more spectacular in person, and it’s especially beautiful during Midnight Mass at Christmas Eve.

When does your Christmas tree and all the decorative trimmings come down? In our home, we celebrate both Advent and Christmas seasons—leaving the tree and nativity up—through the Baptism of our Lord.

Merry Christmas and New Year’s Blessings to all!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Since joining SP about a week ago, I am so happy to see other people of my faith who truly embrace the traditions of Catholicism. I love being Catholic and am proud of my faith. Your church is a lovely place of worship, ours is as well. Enjoy it and spread the Word!
    2680 days ago
    Mine stay up until January 6 a/k/a Little Christmas.

    It is one of the traditional names in Ireland for 6 January, more commonly known in the rest of the world as the Feast of the Epiphany. It is sometime thought that it is called this because under the older Julian calendar, Christmas Day celebrations fell on that day whereas under the Gregorian calendar it falls on 25 December. However the eastern tradition of celebrating the birth of Jesus on January 6 precedes the creation of the Gregorian Calendar by hundreds of years. By the year 1500 AD eastern Churches were celebrating Christmas on January 6 and western churches were celebrating it on December 25 even though both were using the Julian Calendar.[1] It is the traditional end of the Christmas season and until 2013 was the last day of the Christmas holidays for both primary and secondary schools in Ireland.

    I am Irish on my mother's side, and our tree was always up until January 6, thus I have kept the tradition.
    2685 days ago
    Very interesting and beautiful pictures. I have attended many different church denominations of relatives over the years and I don't think that any one ever explained it like that to me, not even my Catholic relatives. My mom was from Mo and attended a small Baptist Church back there. Shortly after my parents were married they moved to Calif, and just before I was born the bought into a neighborhood really close to a Baptist Church that I went to when I was young. Growing up we always put our tree no matter if it was real one or a fake one up some time after Thanksgiving. But I don't think that it was done on any special time. But I think it usually went up around the first of Dec to some where in the middle of Dec. And it usually went up on a weekend so that we could all participate in picking it out if it was real, and could all help with setting it up and decorating it. My mom's birthday was Dec 30th and my sister's is Dec 31st. Our tree would always be up until after the 1st week in Jan or the middle of Jan. Depending on if it was a real tree and how dry it was getting. And it would usually come down on a weekend to so that we could all help to put the decorations away up in the attic and put the tree out to the curb or to a recycle center if it was real too. Now with my boyfriend's son living part time with his mom and part time with us, it really depends on when he is with us and if he wants to help at all with putting it up and taking it down. When I first met his son, he was only 4 yrs old and putting up the Christmas tree that year and the next year was very exciting to him. But since then he hasn't seemed to be interested in helping to decorate it and he was never interested in helping to take it down. This Christmas he went to Fl with his mom to visit her relatives, so we haven't even celebrated our Christmas yet really. He will come back home to us Wednesday night and we will have our little Christmas celebration then. We didn't even put a tree up this year and won't do it, since he was gone for three weeks. And also we just recently got a puppy that has a bad chewing habit, so we were afraid there would be no fake tree left if we put it up this year. But in past years I was following along with what my parents did, putting the tree up in the beginning of Dec to middle of Dec and taking it down the first or second week or so of Jan. I never talked to my parents about if there was a special reason that they put their tree up when they did and took it down when they did. I don't think any of our family knows that, and both my parents are passed away now so I can't ask them why they did what they did.
    2686 days ago
  • no profile photo BAMAJAM
    I loved the pictures--- My home parish from childhood is in Shrewsbury, Mo.
    It is another gorgeous church--- a spectacular carving of the crucifixion and the twelve apostles adorns the altar at St. Michael's...
    May God bless you!
    3027 days ago
  • SUNSET09
    We put up our Christmas decorations after Thanksgiving and because my boyfriend's birthday is on the 7th of Jan so we normally keep them up until that time. It's good to know that Christmas is not over as it remains in our hearts and our spirit. Thanx so much for sharing your pics and the information. Be blessed and have a great 2013 New Year! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    3053 days ago
    As a child our custom was to put decorations up the weekend closest to DM's birthday, Dec.12, and take down on weekend closest to DD's birthday, Jan. 8. Now that my kids are grown and moved out I try to have tree up my Dec. 15. Then have grandkids take it down the day before they leave at Christmas. This way my DS can bring decorations up from basement when here for Thanksgiving and take down before he leaves at Christmas.
    3053 days ago
    Very informative. I value the advent season which celebrate in my church. Not for any particular reason, but I like to keep the tree up until after the new year and then it comes down when it works out for me.
    3054 days ago
    Interesting! We don't have any specific beliefs tied to when our tree goes up or comes down. Usually we take it down at New Year's, but this year we are leaving it up one week longer because we have family in town this week and it's festive and looks nice. It's starting to dry out though, so it will get cut up and curbed as soon as they are on the plane home.
    3054 days ago
    Nothing goes up before Thanksgiving or stays up longer the first weekend of the new year. Since we get a live tree I worry about it drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
    3054 days ago
    beautiful pictures...
    3054 days ago
    We have noticed similar happenings with The Christmas lights in the neighbourhood. Some families stopped turning them on,or took them down, after Christmas, and today we noticed that many more had done the same now that New Year is over. We will have our lights on for another week. If it was up to my girls the tree would never be taken down. Didn't you know, it's the most wonderful time of the year.
    3055 days ago
    Loved the photos. The church you attend is beautiful.
    3055 days ago
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