Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877


By Kara Davidson
Gazette Reporter 

My Two Cents: Christmas decoration ups and downs


January 10, 2019

Christmas and New Years are over, and now neighbors are taking down their Christmas decorations. But in every neighborhood there is always someone who doesn’t participate. Maybe they were late getting their decorations up if they put them up at all. Maybe they don’t feel they have the time or energy to go through the work of taking down the decorations each year and so they leave them up all year. Maybe they don’t understand what all the hoopla is to get the decorations down in a hurry.

Some people like the feeling of having decorations up in their home gives them and just take a bit longer to take down the seasonal cheer. Some people don’t notice the decorations one way or the other. Some get extremely irritated if the decorations aren’t taken down in a timely manner, talking about the bad luck and such that it brings.

Many people will cite Jan. 6 as the day decorations ‘must’ be taken down by. There is a reason for such an exact date for such a decorative (or un-decorative) tradition.

The removal of Christmas decorations on January 5 or 6 is a Christian-based tradition.

If tradition were to be followed correctly, Christmas decorations would be put up on the first day of Advent, which usually lies four weeks before Christmas, depending on which traditions are being followed. In 2018, Advent started on Dec. 2; those who decorated before that could be said to have jumped the gun.

According to this same tradition, decorations ought to be taken down on Twelfth Night or Epiphany eve. If the decorations aren’t removed by the end of epiphany, then they are to remain up until Candlemas, which lands on Feb. 2.

Decorating for Christmas is believed to have begun about 1,000 years ago with fir trees, symbolic of everlasting life with God, and often hung upside down using chains. Some of the traditions started even earlier if pagan traditions such as Saturnalia that align with the winter solstice are taken into consideration.

The mistletoe, or Kissing Bough, was made popular during the middle ages, though it has a much older history found in myths all over Europe. Starting out as a sign of peace, to an emblem for its viewers to cease fighting, it is now a romantic symbol within the Christmas season.

Though a variety of wreaths have been around since ancient times, Christmas wreaths, as we know them today, started as decorated Advent wreaths in the 16th century. In the next century, tinsel was introduced using real shredded silver. Most decorations commonly used today came about in the 1800s; bells, balls and baubles all came into fashion during that century with many other ‘traditional’ decorations coming into favor in the century that followed.

The fear of fire brought about the Christmas lights very similar to what we use today, back in 1895.

Queen Victoria is said to be responsible for the suspicion that leaving lights up after Jan. 6 causes bad luck.


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