Friday, January 06, 2012

Re-Post; Christmas Traditions - Part Four: Old Christmas Day

In honour of Old Christmas Day, I thought I'd re-post this one from last year. Yes, my tree is still up, but it will come down tomorrow. Once Christmas 2011 is officially over for me. So, Merry Christmas and Happy 2012!

Today is January 6. Old Christmas Day. What's that? Never heard of it? I think you're probably not alone.

It's funny really, because Old Christmas Day is very much a part of my life and history. But I honestly never really knew why it was important. It just was. My family is of British origin, and we are Newfoundlanders, so I imagine those facts have something to do with it. It's our tradition. Old Christmas Day was always acknowledged, although there was no particular celebration surrounding it. It was more the official end of Christmas, the time when it was time to take down the tree and store the decorations for another year. It is the Twelfth Day of Christmas, the 12th day after Christ's birth. (And, so, I never understood why people would be confused about the 12 days song.)

The most salient fact about Old Christmas Day for me though is that it is in fact bad luck to take down your tree any earlier. I have never questioned this. Much like I've never questioned why it's bad luck to turn your calendar to a new month before that month arrives - it just is! My tree is still up. I will take it down this weekend. Once it's safe. I'm not risking bad luck or poor health or disaster in 2011 by ending Christmas early and putting the tree away. (Having an artificial tree certainly helps with this particular tradition. Fire safety and all, you know.)

I actually get all twitchy hearing other people talk about having their tree down by New Year's. EEEP! I know it's crazy, but this tradition and belief is just so deeply-seated in me, it ain't goin' nowhere.

If you are interested in learning a little about Old Christmas Day, you can check out these links:

These don't all completely agree, but two themes emerge - Epiphany (the visitation by the Magi) and controversy around the change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. Whatever. For me, Old Christmas Day is the final day of the Christmas season, and all things Christmas remain in my home until that day has passed.

So, one last time, Merry Christmas! :-)


  1. We keep our tree up (well all our decorations really) until today as well but we celebrate epiphany and we can’t take down our nativity set or tree until the wise men get there. I would like to start the tradition in our house of having a kings’ day cake (a cake with a hidden coin in it to celebrate the magi making it there finally) at dinner but alas, it’s not going to happen this year. Our stuff will definitely being coming down tonight. I’m thoroughly sick of it but can’t bring myself to take it down until today.

    Also, today is Christmas Eve for anyone Ukrainian.

  2. Yes, this is Orthodox Christmas, as they follow the Julian calendar. Does your family do a small gift at Epiphany? One of the gals at work remembers always getting one small toy at Epiphany as a remembrance of the wise men and their gifts.

    Lily might like this Three Kings Cake from Dora:

    They suggest putting a chocolate candy in though instead of a coin. In deference to choking hazards I guess :-)

  3. We never really celebrated Epiphany but we never took down our decorations until after the 6th either and still don't. I just can't. It's my job this weekend too. I was sad when I read a friend had everything down on the 27th. :( Tim grew up with Dime Doughnuts on the 6th to celebrate the gifts of the Magi. Not sure what it meant if you found a dime, but it does represents the gifts that were brought.

  4. No, we don't do a gift.

    Lily loved watching the Dora Three Kings episode so I'm sure a Dora cake would go over well too. :)

    Growing up we had to take down our tree on the 26th some years it was the 25th if my dad had the energy. Sam's family keeps it up until the 6th and I really liked the idea so now it's our tradition. :)


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