Tradition Says You Should Take Your Christmas Tree Down on This Specific Date if You Want Good Luck

To avoid bad fortune in 2024, this centuries-old practice says you might want to wait a while longer before you dismantle the Christmas tree

A small living room with a tree inside
(Image credit: Homebase)

The festivities are over, you don't know what day of the week it is, and if you have a real tree, the needles are beginning to look pretty sparse. Even though the holiday is still in full swing, you might be itching to start taking down the decorations already, but before you begin dismantling the tree, there's a specific date you should keep in mind. 

We hope you're still enjoying your tree in all its glory, but if you've had it up since November you might be thinking of taking it down. The thing is, while the big day itself has been and gone, according to tradition, the real festivities have only just got underway. The 12 days of Christmas you've heard so much talk about only begin on the 25th so, as far as custom is concerned, you've still got plenty of festive fun left to enjoy. 

According to that same tradition, taking down your Christmas decorations before or after this one specific date is said to bring bad luck so, if you want to kickstart 2024 with good fortune, you might want to hold off a little longer. Here's why.

When should you take down your Christmas tree?

Cozy modernist Christmas tree

(Image credit: West Elm)

As far as tradition goes, the window for you to take down your Christmas tree - as well as all your other decorations - is actually pretty small. 'In general, the rule of thumb is to take down your Christmas tree and decorations sometime after January 5th or 6th to respect the Twelve Nights of Christmas,' explains Chenise Hinds, an interior designer and home stager at Momooze. 

She goes on to point out, however, that many families make exceptions these days, especially if you have kids who aren't quite ready to say goodbye to the holidays. While ancient traditions might suit some, they're by no means a hard and fast rule to live by. 'The most important thing is doing what feels right for your family,' she says. 'Just be sure to get those fire-prone trees down eventually!' 

What is the Twelfth night tradition? 

If you do want to avoid any bad luck before the New Year is even underway, however, there's no harm in holding off from dismantling any of the decorations just yet. The centuries-old practice centers around the 12 nights of Christmas, and some Christians use this timeframe to influence many of their festive celebrations. If you want some guidance on when to take down your Christmas decorations, the Twelth night is a good idea to adopt. 

'The Twelfth Night tradition originates from the Christian celebration of Epiphany, which marks the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus,' explains Chenise. 'For many Christians, Twelfth Night is observed on January 5th or 6th, depending on
the particular church.'

Jack Thweatt, worship leader and founder of Christian community site, Called, says the tradition of Twelfth Night dictates when Christmas decorations,
including the tree, should be removed. 'This should be done by the evening of January 5th to avoid bad luck falling upon your household in the coming year,' he says. 'This marks the official end of the Christmas celebration period and leaving decorations up after this point was thought to invite misfortune.'

Why is it unlucky to leave Christmas decorations up after the twelfth night?

A room with wooden elements and a grey curtain

(Image credit: Kaitlin Green. Studio credit Emily Henderson)

Whether you believe that taking your decorations down too early or late will bring bad luck is really a question of how superstitious you are. 'There is a popular superstition that leaving your Christmas decorations up past Twelfth Night brings bad luck for the coming year,' says Chenise. 'This belief took root during the Victorian era in England. Back then, decorations were quite expensive so the custom dictated taking them down promptly after the holiday to avoid damage before packing them away for next year.' 

'Today, many still adhere to the tradition of packing up the Christmas tree
and yuletide decorations on Twelfth Night,' Jack adds. 'They follow the old folklore to
avoid cursing their good fortune. However, others choose to extend their
holiday spirit for a few more days or weeks. Some Catholic families keep
decorations up until February 2nd for Candlemas.' 

As both point out, in today's day and age, the strict guidelines are often overlooked giving way to more contemporary Christmas tree trends. 'I still try to adhere to the spirit of the tradition by aiming to have everything put away within a couple weeks of Epiphany,' Jack say. 'Keeping the tree up for too long after January 5th wasn't expressly prohibited by the 12th night rule, but it was generally believed that lingering decorations may prevent you from fully moving into a time of preparation before Easter and Lent.' 

Whether you staunchly believe in proper Christmas etiquette or play by your own rule book, the day you take down your tree is unlikely to have any effect on your fortune. If you'd rather play it safe as we head into 2024, however, we'd recommend holding off for another week! Better to be safe than sorry!

Color & Trends Editor

Lilith Hudson is the Color & Trends Editor at Livingetc. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.