Dragging Last Year’s Baggage Out the Door

Ornaments ready to be packed up

Taking down the Christmas Tree~


Ornaments sorted on the table and waiting to be boxed.

I love my Christmas tree and it is with great pomp and circumstance that I decorate it every year.  We drag the boxes out and I lovingly unpack the decorations reminiscing about each and every one. The decorating ritual starts with everyone in the family helping me… but it ends up with me alone because I become a bit sentimental for my crowd and they tire quickly of the story behind each and every ornament.  Once the tree is up I love sitting by it in the evening, when the lights and tinsel sparkle the most, with a cup of coffee.  There is just something very peaceful about it.  But all good things must come to an end and life must get back to normal. The tree must come down.
Taking down of the tree is a ritual of its own. Each ornament comes down with lots of love and care. They are sorted and placed on the table.  I have a log of the ornaments that is arrange by the year they were added to the collection. After they come down, bows are stuffed with tissue and each ornament is wrapped and packed… all in effort to keep the ornaments safe in the old cardboard boxes until next year. It is sad but at the same time symbolizes the start of an exciting New Year full of unlimited fresh possibility. Not to mention the fact that vacuuming is required to pick up the stray tinsel and dried needles.  Probably the best cleaning the room gets all year.
Our tree comes down before midnight on December 31.  I always heard it was bad luck to leave it up into the New Year. I really just wanted help getting it out the door and toting the boxes to storage before everyone went back to work and school.    I am not superstitious but back in the late 1990’s the hubby and I were sick and didn’t get the tree down.  At 12:01 on January 1, we heard a crash only to find our beautiful tree on it’s side. It wasn’t really fun being sick and bringing in the New Year by mopping the stinky month of stagnant tree water off the hard wood floors. Amazingly only one ornament broke in the great crash and I was able to glue it together. I took that as a warning. From that year on, I have been a little more determined that the tree be down by the 31st… just to be safe.

Beautifully colored Chrismas balls

Mercury balls, new to the collection this year.

When do you take down your tree?  There are several traditional dates for taking down the tree and decorations. I did a little research and here are the most common traditions:

•Take down the decorations before midnight on Dec. 31 so you don’t drag the baggage from the old year into the new year.

•Take the tree down on Jan 5th- the twelfth day after Christmas… remember the song?  This tradition celebrates the tree during the 12 days following Christmas and then puts closure to the holiday.

•Take down the tree on Jan 6th for the Epiphany also know  as the 3 Kings Day.  Epiphany celebrates the fact that God had taken human form in Jesus.

Tradition aside, the Christmas tree association and UL Labs research recommend not leaving a live tree up for more than 4 weeks.  Even if watered the entire time it has been in your house, after 4 weeks the tree is considered to be more of a fire hazard.  So, when the tree comes down should be directly related to the date it went up. Of course there are some of us that need to take it down when we have the time or are on break for the holidays.

Checking around on the internet I found several polls asking the question about taking down the tree.   17% take the the tree down before the New Year starts. The majority, 64  take the tree down by Jan 6th – for Epiphany.  15%  take the tree down during the week following the epiphany and the rest …well I guess some people just keep the tree up.

Santa Ornaments

Santas ready to be stored until next year.

If you have a live tree and want to recycle it, there are several options.  You can find a local “Bring One in for the Chipper” location close to you by going to www.keepgeorgiabeautiful.org website and using the Earth911 locator. You can also apply for free mulch from the trees on their site.  Other options include using it to create fish and bird habitats or chipping/cutting it yourself for use as mulch in your own yard.  I did read of one tradition of saving branches from the tree to burn on Shrove Tuesday  to help the pancakes along.  Shrove Tuesday(Fat Tuesday) is the last day of feasting before lent.  It falls on February 12th this year. It wasn’t clear about where or how the branches are burned and by Shrove Tuesday the branches will be really dry and go fast so use caution.
Do you have your own tradition or do you follow one of these? Whenever you take down your tree I hope it is the end of a great holiday season and the start of a happy New Year.  Welcome 2013!

Maggie Zerkus

Maggie Zerkus is in charge of all things social, sparkly and fun at Fayette Woman.