Still Celebrating Christmas, by Sheila Deeth

It’s January 13th, and we still have Christmas lights blazing every night outside our house. A pine tree scents the living room, and a turkey’s sharing space with roast potatoes in the oven: Christmas dinner, again!

We have a good excuse though. Our oldest son’s a doctor and he worked through the holidays. But now he’s home and it’s time to celebrate. Still, d’you suppose it’s really okay to have Christmas in January?

I know the Christmas season starts on the night of December 24th (’cause it’s Advent before). But when is the first night, and when’s twelfth night, and when do the decorations have to come down? Is Epiphany still part of Christmas? Is “after Epiphany” too? I turned to Google to figure it out.

Google is my friend, of course. I ask Google lots of questions when I’m editing my stories: When did people start using cell-phones, for example, so I can decide how they’ll contact each other in my novel. I ask what cars they drove in the States in the 70s–since I grew up in England it’s not much good trying to sift through my memories. I let Google tell me how far it is to drive from A to B, and what the weather was like in early spring of 1963. Google helps me fact-check those details so my stories can grow. It also let me know that:

  • Christmas really does begin with a first night on Christmas Eve (in the West anyway)
  • which means twelfth night ends on the morning of January 6th
  • when the season of Epiphany starts. But Epiphany’s still part of Christmas, which continues on until
  • the feast of the Baptism of Jesus, on the first Sunday after Epiphany (yesterday), or, in older traditions,
  • on Candle-mass, known as the Festival of Light, or feast of the Purification of Mary (40 days after the birth of her son) and the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple.

40 days (ah, dreams of Lent and Easter here) takes us to February 2nd, which means I’m perfectly (or anciently) traditional, still celebrating my Christmas for weeks to come. That said, I’ll probably take down the tree when our son goes back to work–it’s shedding needles far and wide, and they’re getting pretty hard to sweep off the floor.

So… When did you take down your tree if you had one? When did all the Christmas lights go out in your neighborhood? Which season are you most looking forward to celebrating next? And is Google your friend?

Happy Christmas, New Year, Epiphany, Candlemass and more!

Sheila Deeth

Sheila Deeth is the author of three contemporary novels, Divide by Zero, Infinite Sum, and Imaginary Numbers, all coming soon from Second Wind Publishing. She loves numbers, writing, reading, cats and dogs, amongst other things, and calls herself a Mongrel Christian Mathematician. She rather likes Christmas too! And Google is her friend.


Filed under fun, writing

9 responses to “Still Celebrating Christmas, by Sheila Deeth

  1. My family celebrated Christmas on the 25th and took the decorations down shortly thereafter, since we were on holiday and had the time. The thing we did a little differently was starting twelve days earlier with presents. One a day, to be opened when dinner was finished, from Mom and Dad, twelve days of presents.
    It had always bothered me that Santa got all the credit for being the wonderful benevolent giver of good gifts, while parents were relegated to the back seat. At our house, on Christmas morning, Santa brought one big fun gift with little items like pencils and paper and of course, socks. Let Mom and Dad get the credit.
    When my sister’s children grew up, she adopted January 6, or rather the closest weekend to the 6th, as their family get together. It let them have a day where there were not so many conflicts and people were not so busy rushing everywhere.

    Hoyle Purvis is author of Extinction, an end of the world as we know it, thriller. You can find out more about him at his facebook page, hvpurvis or websitte

    • I like your idea of giving one present a day. That would certainly spread out the fun!

      We used to tell our kids that Santa delivered presents from all the relatives. There would always be something small just from Santa, but all the rest had labels to be read and people to be thanked.

  2. One time, for reasons I no longer remember, our family’s Christmas tree stay up until early February. I might have been in high school.

    Now, I try to follow the tradition that greenery (etc) is taken down on 12th Night. I prefer leaving things up awhile and find it upsetting to drive through the neighborhood late on the 25th an find trees already lying out by the curb for the recycling truck.


  3. Well, Sheila, I guess I’m the odd one out! It’s Jan.14th and I still have my tree and all my decorations up. I have an excuse though. My across-the-street neighbor’s son is in the military stationed in Korea. He was supposed to be home for Christmas, but his orders were delayed and he won’t be able to get home ’till the end of January. My neighbor and I are leaving our Christmas things up so when he does come home, he will have, at least, a portion of Christmas mood left.

    That’s my excuse this year, but I did the same thing last year with no excuse. I just love this season and like it to last as long as possible.

    One year, another neighbor, who happens to be a policeman, knocked on my door well after Christmas. When I answered the door and saw him standing there, he had a kind of twinkle in his eye as he said, “I’m the Christmas police. Don’t you think it’s time to take down your tree?” I had to laugh when his twinkle became a big teasing smile.

    What can I say, I love Christmas!

    • It sounds a perfect excuse. Our son left today, but I can’t bear to take down the decorations straight away, so the lights are shining again tonight. No Christmas police have knocked on our door yet 🙂

  4. Hi, Sheila! It’s good to see you here. Welcome to Second Wind!

  5. Sheila, I think we can celebrate Christmas any day of the year!

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