Picture: Instagram.
Picture: Instagram.

When’s the right time to take down your Christmas tree and stop wishing people a ’Happy New Year’?

By Sacha van Niekerk Time of article published Jan 11, 2022

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With back to school shopping under way, journeys home arranged and most of us already starting the work year, the last remnants of the holiday season are rapidly depleting before our eyes.

Fortunately, there is a little festiveness still in the air. Apart from the discounted mince pies, fruitcake and chocolates that stock supermarket shelves, Christmas decorations and holiday greetings have prevailed well into January. This begs the question: When should you take down your tree and stop saying, “Happy New Year”?

If you're puzzled, look to tradition for guidance. Since the fourth century, many Christians have celebrated the Twelfth Night (or 12 nights after Christmas) — also known as the Epiphany Eve — as the end of the Christmas season. According to an article published by Town and Country, Epiphany is historically a Christian feast day commemorating John the Baptist's baptism of Jesus and the arrival of the Three Wise Men. On this day. special services are held all over the world and many believe that waiting too long after the Twelfth Night brings you bad luck.

But, as with most things, it is also completely up to preference. Some people take down all their decorations right after December 25 to get ready for the New Year. Others might do so well into January, just to hold onto the festive magic a little longer (or, more likely, they just keep forgetting).

As for the New Year conundrum: When does it become awkward to greet people with a cheerful “Compliments of the New Season”? The answer is a little more difficult to pinpoint because there is no definitive cut-off date and no guideline to follow.

If you’re meeting new friends for the first time in the year, you may want to wish them (even in late January or early February). The same goes for sending out office emails to work colleagues at the beginning of the year. However, once you’ve greeted somebody once, we’d say it’s pretty unnecessary to continue to repeatedly use the term.

As the days in January fly by, you’ll probably find that you naturally stop using this greeting, possibly because it no longer feels appropriate. Furthermore, other major events start to creep up – like back to school and Valentine’s Day, and they start taking over. Some people also choose to view January 1 as you would someone’s birthday. For instance, you wouldn’t continue to wish them after their actual birth date has passed, so treat New Year’s greetings in the same manner.

Ultimately, for both scenarios, the choice is up to you and what you feel is right for your situation. So go ahead and leave your twinkly lights up until late January, if it makes you feel merry.

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