So When Does Christmas End (OFFICIALLY)?

Something I have wondered for some time now. When does the Christmas season “really” end?

I know where I live, some people leave their decorations up till March. But that is not what I am talking about.

I will tell what I have learned, to show you why I am so confused. As a kid, I assumed it ended January 1st. That is in fact partly why I ask this question today. But then in fifth grade RC school, Sister Florence told us it once was assumed to end on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6. Made sense, and also a bummer, because we usually were back from vacation by then.

In the US at least, it ends on the Baptism of Our Lord, which I think is around the middle of January. I guess that makes sense (forgetting for the moment Jesus was baptized as an adult). About 20 years ago I got a Polish cook book which says there, it ends on Candlemas Day (what we would call Ground Hog Day).

This actually makes a lot of sense. Ground Hog’s Day actually is a cross-quarter day, following the Christmas season. (Cecil even discusses that briefly here.) So could that be when Christmas **really ** ends? I really need to know.

Oh, and BTW, I have a little of a downer for you all. Christmastime definitely does NOT begin December first. That is more properly the season of Advent. A time of quiet reflection at best, but not the joyous season of Christmas.

So when does it really end? I want theological interpretations too.

:slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

The twelve days of Christmas start on Christmas Day and go through 12th Night, January 5th. That is followed by Epiphany (Jan. 6th), and is as official and end to the season as it gets. I remember reading some places in the world do continue Christmastide up to Candlemas, but these are few and far between at best.

Officially? Midnight on December 25th. Unofficially? After all the presents have been opened and it’s time to clean up.

Despite what advertising wants you to believe, the 12 days of Christmas aren’t a countdown to the 25th but start on the 25th. So technically you’re fine until then.

On the other hand, if you are one of the Armenian Orthodox churches who still use the Julian calendar, you have until Jan 30 as their Christmas is not until the 19th of January. I’m sure your neighbors will understand.

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According to the religious mumbo-jumbo, the season starts 12/25 and ends 1/6.

According to the real world, the season starts anywhere between Labor Day and Halloween and ends when all the presents have been returned and exchanged.

Looks like 40 days starting on Christmas Day … is that how long it takes a woman to purify herself after childbirth? …

It depends on the country. My mom, who came here from Italy as a girl, said Epiphany was when they exchanged Christmas gifts, which makes sense in terms of religious tradition. Accordingly, we always left our tree up until January 7th.

I turn off my Christmas Lights after new years day.

I’m an atheist, and I still leave all of my Christmas decorations (including the ones at my desk at work) up until Epiphany.

That depends on what you mean by “The Christmas Season.” If you include the entire break around Christmas and New Year’s Day, it ends when you return to work/school after January 1. There is no “official” ending, although I would say, January 2 (or January 3 if 1/2 is a holiday because 1/1 was on a Sunday).

It used to be easy - “the day after the Rose Bowl” - but that was before the game became part of the college football playoff system.

That’s it. 12 days of Christmas. Just like the song.
The Jews get 8 for Hanukkah, Christians get 12.

According to the US Council of Catholic Bishops, the Christmas season this year ends on January 8th, 2018, and Ordinary Time begins on January 9th.

So we’re not currently in ordinary time? Christmas and Epiphany are some funky relativistic thing, then. :slight_smile:

According to Gretchen Wilson, never.

Yep, what we’d call American Civil Christmas is actually just Advent, expanded back to Black Friday.

With Epiphany being given its historically due high regard in our culture, we in Puerto Rico have extended the celebrations past the octave of the Epiphany (thus mid-January) just because, hey, we started the party weeks before Nativity, we might as well keep it going weeks past Epiphany…

Aren’t there countries where Christmas even starts later, due to keeping the Julian calendar?

Holy crap, can you imagine how long that song would take to sing if we went with this scheme?

On the fortieth day of Christmas my true love sent to meeeeeee
Forty tacky ties
Thirty-nine smallish sweaters
Thirty-eight scented soaps


Yes, I mentioned the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Jan 19. But more “mainstream” Orthodox churches do it Jan 7. It’s not all Orthodox churches, many use Gregorian/Revised Julian. Other churches do it on the day of Jesus’ baptism, in either Gregorian or Julian dates.

Yes, Russia for one. Not that Russia itself is on the Julian Calendar, but the Orthodox Church is very conservative.

Of course, back in the old USSR days, too much Christmassing was pretty much frowned upon by the Soviet authorities. I don’t know how popular it is these days, but Russian (and Greek) Orthodox Christmas still goes on on January 7 outside of Russia (and is pretty low-key compared to Catholic/Protestant Christmas, not to mention Monster Secular Present-And-Food-Orgy Christmas)

ETA: Oh look! This Christmas Ninja has visited me!

We need “fire and forget” holiday decorations. Like OLED panels we can mount various places, some colored LEDs, maybe a few outdoor speakers.

Basically, you buy the decoration, put it up somewhere, it’s solar powered, and give it access to some kind of network so it can find out the date.

It then endlessly cycles through the holiday decorations without human intervention. So on Halloween, it has ghost imagery and on Christmas the usual color scheme and an image of a tree and so on and so forth.

In a post apocalyptic sci-fi story, those decorations would still be declaring their festive cheer long after the people who put them up are dead.