New Year’s Day promises two certainties: college football bowl games and Christmas trees on the curb. To Catholics, of course, January 1 is the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. It’s a Holy Day of Obligation, and the final day of the Octave of Christmas.The Church, however, is so generous with joy. She does not end our celebration of the Incarnation with the conclusion of the Octave of Christmas. She extends it to Epiphany. Twelfth Night, as our English-speaking brethren call it, is an event Catholics in America should celebrate with more enthusiasm (think: roaring bonfires, grilled meat, lots of singing, red wine, brown ale) and might very well do if it were observed here on the Liturgical Calendar on January 6 as it is England, Australia, and Canada, to say nothing of Vatican City. But the celebrating doesn’t stop there! After Epiphany, the revelry continues until the Baptism of the Lord, the first Sunday after January 6 (usually). This year, Catholics may very well wish to keep their decorations up through January 11. And if you want to be really traditional, you can celebrate what the faithful called “Christmastide” before the liturgical reforms that followed the Second Vatican Council. In the old rite, or what we today call the Extraordinary Form, Christmastide lasted for 40 days to correspond with the 40 days of Lent, and the 40 days from Easter to Ascension Thursday.
Since besides the tree we do the nativity scene, the take down of Holiday Decorations happen on December 6, also known as “Dia de Reyes” or when allegedly the Three Wise Men showed up with the gifts and in Spain is when the kids finally get their presents (or coal) which kinda sucks.
I have a confession to make. I am not a very joyous person and I have managed to convince the missus not to decorate the outside of the house as it is a pain in the ass. But that came with the compromise she can have her tree and other decorations inside the house plus mom gets to set up the world weirdest nativity scene (She lost her original 1/24 scale baby Jesus and somebody gave her a 1/8 baby Jesus substitute and now we have “Our Lord was born on steroids” nativity scene.) So, as my limit is January the 6th and after that, stuff in white, red and green will mysteriously disappear (The case of the Dancing Cowboy Santa is still unresolved.)
So, no way in hell I am going to deal with Christmas decorations till sometime the end of the first fiscal quarter! I do believe Joan of Arc met her ending because she left mistletoe, ribbons and lights till at least Ash Wednesday and some say even longer.
So, if you are Catholic, just say no to extended decoration days. Keep it Protestant and get rid of the stuff on January First or survive till the Sixth.