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Now On To Really Important Topics: When Should Christmas Lights Come Down? November 28, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in Christendom, Domestic Church, family, General Catholic, Liturgical Year, paganism, sadness, scandals, secularism, Society.

Our house is one of “those” houses.  The one with the Christmas lights up until February 2nd.  Because that’s when the season ends, people!  We also don’t put them out on Thanksgiving, but generally just a few days before Christmas itself.  It varies, depending on the amount of time we have, because we put up quite a bit, usually, though the kids have thankfully taken over much of the task in recent years.  We certainly don’t put them up the day after Thanksgiving and rip ’em down the day after Christmas, or even New Years.

Apparently this topic was worthy of a news story, and, interestingly, not only do most people believe Christmas lights should come down very quickly, a growing number of municipalities are instituting laws to that effect:

When we see the first twinkle of the lights in early December, it is amazing, even magical. But eighteen days after the holiday? So, when is the right time to take down Christmas decorations?…….

………“Today while I shoveled, somebody honked at me, I waved. He slowed down and said ‘Christmas is over’ and with an expletive,” he said.

It’s not like with political campaign signs. It’s Minnesota law those have to be down 10 days after the election. But in San Diego, California, you can get a $250 fine if your lights are still up after Feb. 2. [Well at least it’s till the 2nd.  But a fine?  C’mon.]

The Urban Dictionary even has a term for these people: Nerkles. It’s a combination of nerd and sparkle.

In Minneapolis, Brad Sutton admitted his giant wreath probably should be unplugged.

“I’ll be honest, we’re past that point. A week past the New Years, that’s enough,” said Sutton, as he sheepishly walked to the second story of his house and pulled the power cord.

Lisa Scherber said the end of January is her drop-dead point for leaving the lights on.

“It starts to look a little pathetic when the snow is melting, so we do turn them off,” she said.

Todd Zimmerman proposed a staggered system of light deadlines: “Christmas Lights stay on until the day after Christmas then they are off period. I actually don’t take down the outside Christmas lights until is is warm enough (like March, April, June, whatever) and the snow is off the roof. Inside Christmas lights and decorations come day New Years Day.”

But as Nancy Aleshire wrote on my blog, “Keeping lights up is a matter of personal preference. There are no laws against it. If people don’t like it they should get a life.”

This is a small thing, in the grand scheme, but indicative of a culture that has completely lost the meaning and spirit of Christmas.  Christmas isn’t a day, a build up to a much longed for greed fest that ends the day hours after the presents start getting unwrapped, it’s a season that STARTS on the 25th, extends through a glorious Octave, and continues on until Candlemas on February 2nd.  We see the continuing commercialization and diminution of all the great holidays, both secular and religious.  I was disgusted to see “Black Friday” commercials advertising stores opening at 6pm, 3pm, even noon on Thanksgiving day.  And we’ll be inundated with “after Christmas sales” and all the rest – starting almost certainly on the holy day itself.  I remember when the whole world was pretty much shut down on Christmas day.  It was a big thing when a few convenience stores started staying open on Christmas in the mid-80s.  Now it’s just another freaking day to shop. The religious nature of the holiday has been almost completely turned upside down, with the commercialization subsuming the sacred character of the season, as it has virtually everything else.  ‘

But it’s happened, because people have wanted it to happen. If stores and businesses received a very cold shoulder, and, more importantly, absolutely no customers, then they wouldn’t be opening on these holy days.  They do it because people want it, they want to exchange their not quite perfect gift for a more perfect one, which will be old and forgotten hours – days at best – after being bought.

I have tried in the past few years to be off work the entire 12 days of Christmas, from the 25th to the 6th.  That probably won’t work this  year because of my new job but I hope to return to the practice next year (inability to transfer vacation from one year to the next can be frustrating).  Something else my wife and I try to do is to only allow the kids to open some presents on Christmas day and keep some for following days, allowing them to open one each day for a while. We usually haven’t enough for the full twelve days, and to be honest our attempts at spreading the joy haven’t always completely worked out.  We’ll try again this year, and as the kids get older, it tends to get a bit easier.

But the lights are staying up until the 2nd, period.  I really miss it when they come down.  It’s very sad and contributes – as it should – to the sense of termination of a festive season and the start (nominally) of Septuagint, which often follows closely on Candlemas when it does not preempt it.



1. Tim - November 29, 2016

FEBRUARY 2ND. Is the Christmas Litugical Season or is it not? Lights and such should not go up on Black Friday. We used to wait until December 24, but with Mass and everything else it became impractical. We now gradually build-up starting on Gaudete Sunday and finish on the 24th. I put an Advent wreath in the lobby at my office…..that gets questions and about mid January the “your tree is still up” comments start. Great chance to educate the worldlings.

Tantumblogo - November 29, 2016

Great way to evangelize! Good for you. We do separate Advent decorations at this time, then start with the Christmas decorations outside a few days before Christmas, then do the inside usually on Christmas Eve, but sometimes the day before.

2. Baseballmom - November 29, 2016

Ain’t it grand when the kids get old enough to take over??? You will be spoiled for a good long while… and then they will leave… ingrates 😉
Ours go up when the hubs can get it done… usually a bit before Christmas. I keep them up through the solemnity of Mary and as long as possible after that. Our HOA insists they be all gone by the first of February.

3. The Lord's Blog - November 29, 2016

Reblogged this on Jean'sBistro2010's Blog and commented:
Christmas is my favorite time of year including the annoying music which I love to my hearts content.

4. Amillennial - November 29, 2016

We leave the lights on, when we use them, until Candlemas. The tree will go up during the Advent season, however, this year we will decorate in purple until Christmas weekend when the ornaments will replace the purple ribbons. This will, like the lights, stay until Candlemas. I am acquainted with a family that doesn’t even give gifts until Epiphany. This is a practice I’d like to adopt as well.

5. Barbara Hvilivitzky - November 29, 2016

Here in my town there has developed something called “The Festival of Lights” and no mention of Christmas at all. The ‘festival’ starts around mid-November and lasts until the middle of January. Our home stays un-decorated and un-lit until the end of Advent. And we take down after Epiphany. Seems like this is a better schedule than that of seculars.

6. David - November 29, 2016

When I was a kid in Houston (mid to late 1970s), several neighbors and some of our friends thought we were strange because we would never put out our tree (those days, we purchased a real tree) until around December 20, and we left it up until the Feast of the Epiphany. We were the only family on the block that I remember who did that. Today, I keep a tree up until January 6.

7. David - November 29, 2016

I have a good buddy who I have known since 5th grade, and we still keep in touch today. He is Jewish, and he is still a practicing Jewish with his family. I always admired his family and his close knit Jewish friends. Many years Hanukkah would be celebrated in the evenings and they would have to go to school the next day. I also admired how much prep time (years) he spent preparing for Bar Mitzvah, even learning Hebrew. I remember preparing for Confirmation in 1981 and recall it only being 90 minutes on a Monday night for most of one school year, along with 6 weeks of volunteering at a hospital on Tuesday afternoon, and one Saturday retreat (and I didn’t mind going – something clicked, but we should have had more nuts and bolts ).

8. skeinster - November 29, 2016

Since it’s just the spouse and myself, and S., we don’t decorate nearly as much as before. As the only Catholic in my family, compromise is the watchword.

I tamper with tradition by putting our alley fence ights up on the 1st Sunday – I justify this b/c Jesus is the Light of the World.

No open flames in the house, so no Advent wreath. I have an artificial tree on which I hang a holy card ornament each day.

Don’t do the tree until about the 23rd. My one quibble with the Feb 2 leave up date is the tree- if it’s a fire hazard, it needs to go. Remember, the tree is a recent addition, as tradition goes.

My pet Advent/Christmas decor is my outdoor nativitiy, which my long-suffering husband is helping me completely re-work this year.
I get to leave that up ’til a bit after Epiphany, but then he wants it packed back in the garage, with the rest of the decorations.

I find the problem is not keeping Advent myself, but keeping clear of everyone else’s premature celebration. Some of which can’t be avoided- like the grandkids’ school program.

Tim - November 29, 2016

The tree is not a fire hazard if you keep it watered. Ours lasts quite well each year.

9. Camper - November 29, 2016

I think it makes sense to have decorations up between about the 24th and Epiphany, though I understand why people want to have them up until Feb. 2nd. At our house, we put up a star outside the house on the 23rd and take it down at Epiphany. Tree comes down at Epiphany.

10. here - November 29, 2016

Personally I think it’s appropriate to leave Christmas things up until Epiphany. If you want to go longer, fine. My mother would leave things up until at least Epiphany. Being in a mainly protestant small town, of course a lot of people took / take things down earlier. Back when people had real Christmas trees, It wasn’t unusual to see the tree out on the street for trash pickup the morning after Christmas. My mother would tell people our decorations were up because the Wise Men hadn’t gotten there yet. So friends, neighbors and co-workers took to asking her each year “Have the Wise Men gotten here yet 🙂 ?”

When I was a kid Epiphany was still celebrated on Jan. 6th and was a Holy Day of Obligation. It’s still a Holy Day but is transferred to Sun. I’d like to see it back on Jan. 6th but with the state of Holy Days nowadays, good luck to me. Do any parishes in this diocese even have vigil Masses the evening before a Holy Day anymore, for instance ? Of course Candlemas is a nice day to attend Mass. Plus you can celebrate Groundhog Day ( I’m a UD alum what can I say ? )… They’re both days to commemorate light ; )

11. c matt - November 29, 2016

Epiphany seems a decent time to leave them up. But if it gets me out of dealing with it until February, I am all for Feb 2nd.

12. Tim - November 30, 2016
13. Amillennial - November 30, 2016

The Church Militant Feed for the Download podcast features this topic fairly. See episode dated November 29, 2016 and called simply, ‘Advent’.

14. MFG - December 1, 2016

Epiphany for the main decorations but leave some things up til Feb 2nd. Honestly I think many secular people who love Christmas do feel sad when they have to give up this season on Dec 26 or Jan 1 and that could be a great evangelization opportunity if we can reclaim Dec 26-Feb 2.

The week between Christmas and New Years is probably the most Catholic time of the year left where people focus (however imperfectly) on true leisure by taking off from work, devoting time to visit family, recreation, traditions (homemade food, visiting historic downtowns for holiday scenes, etc ) and local customs. This is enough beachhead for Catholics to try and win back the culture.

One thing we’ve forgotten to ask ourselves is who owns Christmas? Who has authority over Christmas? The Church does. She declares when Christmas begins/ends (Dec 25-Feb 2) and when it doesn’t (I.e. Black Friday-Dec 24).

We can and should lead an effort to reclaim this Holy season. First in our families and parishes and then in our neighborhoods.

Tantumblogo - December 1, 2016

Great points MFG! thanks for the comment

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