When are the official dates to put Christmas decorations up – and take them down?

·6 min read
Here's the official date you should be putting your Christmas decorations up. (Getty Images)
Here's the official date you should be putting your Christmas decorations up. (Getty Images)

Deciding when to deck the halls is the great divider. 

While some prefer to wait until mid to late December to dig out the decorations, others like to get their Christmas on the minute Halloween is out of the way – we're looking at you, Mariah.

But when is the official date we should be getting the house all festive for Christmas? 

What does tradition say?

Traditionally, Christmas trees should be put up and decorated at the start of Advent, which is the season when Christians prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, known as Advent Sunday, and always ends on Christmas Eve (24 December).

This means that this year, Advent falls on Sunday, 28 November.

Read more: Free Christmas decorations: Here's how to forage for an eco-friendly festive season

So, if you're keen to go early this year, this is the earliest date that tradition dictates you should be putting your tree up.

It was previously deemed unlucky to put your tree up prior to this date, but other traditions claim popping up your tree more than 12 days before Christmas is unlucky, too.

Meanwhile, Roman Catholic tradition states that the tree shouldn’t put up until the afternoon of Christmas Eve, as any time earlier than this was also deemed to be bad luck. 

When does tradition dictate we should be putting the tree up? (Getty Images)
When does tradition dictate we should be putting the tree up? (Getty Images)

When are Brits planning to put up the decorations this year?

According to research from Scribbler, only 13.5% of UK adults put their tree up in November, regardless of advent tradition. 

The most common time people put their tree up is the first week of December, with a third of adults saying this is their preferred option, while just over a fifth (22%) of people wait until the second week of December and 10% leaving it til week three.

Turns out there's an age-divide when it comes to deciding when to get festive, with research from electrical wholesaler ERF finding that younger people favour putting up their decorations earlier, compared to their older counterparts. 

Under 35s put their decorations up 29 days before Christmas versus over 35s who put them up 24 days prior.

Age isn’t the only varying factor for Brits and their Christmas decoration rules though; location further divides the nation.

The most festive place to spend Christmas time is Swansea, as those who live here will put up their decorations the earliest - a full 49 days before Christmas.

Meanwhile, those living in Shropshire, Renfrewshire and Lothian leave it the longest to get their festive on. 

Read more: Make Your Home Merry and Bright with These DIY Christmas Decorations

The psychology of putting your decorations up early

Although traditionally, the tree would go up much closer to the big day, in the past couple of years it has become almost normal practice to see the decorations going up in the middle of November or even earlier.

Tan France unashamedly puts his Christmas tree up every year on October 31 as part of a 11 year Halloween tradition. “Who cares about Halloween costumes, when it’s the 11th year of our Christmas-Tree-on-Halloween-tradition?” the Queer Eye star captioned an image shared on Instagram of his floor to ceiling fake festive fir.

And given the non-event that was Christmas 2020, this year's festive season holds even more anticipation than usual. It's little wonder that twinkling Christmas lights have already been adorning households.

Before the “it’s too early” brigade start sounding off about the festive fast-forward, it's worth noting that digging out the decs sooner rather than later can actually give your mental health a boost.

"Research has shown that people who put up their decorations super-early are generally happier and even more friendly," explains Lucy Beresford, psychotherapist, relationship expert and broadcaster.

How early is too early to get your Christmas on? (Getty Images)
How early is too early to get your Christmas on? (Getty Images)

The pandemic has also made people keen to seize the moment. 

"They remember how Christmas last year was affected and don’t want to be caught out," Beresford explains. 

"They currently cannot see the point in waiting until Christmas Eve or even until December to dive into the festive season – especially if there is renewed risk of shops shutting or a lockdown happening closer to Christmas."

Watch: Mum cheers up kids and neighbours by putting up Christmas decorations three months early

And going early on Christmas can also reveal a lot about you as a person. 

"You may be an incredibly organised person who likes to be prepared and enjoys planning things in advance," suggests Dr Elena Touroni, a consultant psychologist and co-founder of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic. "You’re the kind of person who likes to feel 'ready' and avoid any last minute stress."

Of course it could also say that you’re someone who just really loves Christmas. 

"Perhaps it provides memories of childhood that were special?" Dr Touroni asks. "Or maybe Christmas wasn’t special enough growing up and you’re trying to make up for that. 

"In therapy, we sometimes refer to the part of us that gets excited about things in a childlike way as 'happy child mode'. So it may, for instance, say that you’re someone who’s in touch with their happy child mode and likes to have fun."

Read more: Best sustainable gifts for Christmas 2021: Our guide to this year’s top eco-friendly presents

When should we de-Christmas? (Getty Images)
When should we de-Christmas? (Getty Images)

When should we officially de-Christmas?

Just as there is some debate about when to put them up, there's also a division about when to take it all back down again. 

While some people might be keen to de-Christmas the minute you've pulled the last cracker, others like to hang on to that festive cheer for as long as possible. 

In Christianity, the traditional date to take your Christmas tree down is twelve days after Christmas.

This is because celebrations last for 12 days from the birth of Jesus, so the Twelfth Night – or the twelfth day after Christmas – officially marks the end of the festive season.

This year, the Twelfth Night falls on Thursday, 6 January.

Leaving Christmas decorations up after this date is widely considered to be unlucky.

And just as going early on getting the tinsel up says a lot about our personality, so too does whipping them straight back down. 

"You may be the kind of person who enjoys the lead up and anticipation of Christmas more than anything else," explains Dr Touroni. 

"Or maybe you feel a sense of sadness that it is over and you don’t want to be reminded of it." 

Alternatively Dr Touroni suggests it could just mean you like to be organised and see it as a task that you want to complete as soon as possible.

Watch: Star added to Legoland Christmas tree

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