When should you put up a Christmas tree? Date of advent and the 12 days of Christmas in 2020 - and when to take your tree down

Decorations, baubles and lights add festive cheer to your home in winter - but is it too early to put them up in November?

There are two types of people when it comes to the Christmas season.

It’s a yearly struggle between those who live and breathe the most wonderful time of the year, and the Scrooges who grudge festive celebrations.

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We all know someone who fits the former description.

Some people put their Christmas trees and decorations up as early as November (Shutterstock)
Some people put their Christmas trees and decorations up as early as November (Shutterstock)

They listen to Christmas songs all year round, and if it were socially acceptable to put up a tree in summer, tinsel and all, they would probably do it.

Especially after an unprecedented and tough year, many people are looking forward to Christmas as an escape from reality and are keen to put up their trees as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, there are a few Christmas traditions in place that mean trees should be put up and decorated at a very specific time of the year.

If you want to avoid judgemental looks from your neighbours, it’s probably best to wait until then to make your house a festive haven.

When should you put up your Christmas tree?

Traditionally, Christmas trees should be put up and decorated at the beginning of Advent, an important period of the Christian calendar.

Advent marks the weeks before the birth of Jesus, and this time is supposed to be used in preparation for Christmas Day.

Advent always begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, and this year that falls on Sunday 29 November.

That means it actually is acceptable to put up your Christmas tree and decorations in November if you’re one of the early birds.

But be warned - a real pine tree only lasts for about four weeks, so putting one up at the end of November could be a little risky.

For this reason, The British Christmas Tree Growers Association (BCTGA) recommends buying your tree at the beginning of December if you want it to last throughout the holiday season.

For those who are less organised, or simply less keen on the idea of a November Christmas tree, there’s another tradition where people put up their trees 12 days before the big day.

This is probably the more common time to put up festive decorations, although there are always some Grinches who leave it as late as Christmas Eve.

In the past, decorations and trees weren’t actually put up until Christmas Eve - and anything earlier was considered unlucky.

When should you take the tree down?

It’s all well and good putting up your Christmas tree in November, but the question of when to take it down remains.

After the work that goes into assembling it and carefully arranging the baubles and tinsel, it can be tempting to leave the tree up for as long as possible.

On the other hand, real Christmas trees tend to shed their pine needles when they’ve been cut down, which can cause a bit of a mess on the floor - so you may be one of those people who can’t wait to get rid of the tree once Christmas has been and gone.

Thankfully, there’s another tradition to guide us when it comes to the date of disassembly.

In Christianity, Christmas celebrations last 12 days from the birth of Jesus, so the Twelfth Night officially signals the end of the festivities.

This is widely agreed as the day decorations should be put back in the attic for another year.

What’s more is, as far as the tradition goes, leaving a tree or decorations up past this date is considered unlucky.

The Twelfth Night falls on Tuesday 5 January this year.