Tonight is Twelfth Night – the evening of the 5th January.
Why is Twelfth Night on the 5th January and not the 6th (Twelfth Day)?
Well, to our ancient ancestors, the end of day was when the sun went down. The oncoming night was the beginning of the next day.
Christmas, started at sunset on 24 December. They considered this to be Christmas Evening (or Christmas Eve). Christmas would then continue until nightfall on the 25th which started St. Stephen's Day, (Boxing Day) the first of the twelve days of Christmas.
Twelfth Night (5th January) is when all Christmas Decorations should be removed so as not to bring bad luck upon the home. If decorations are not removed on Twelfth Night they should stay up all year.
Why is it bad luck to leave the decorations up after Twelfth Night?
Long ago it was thought that leaving the decorations up would cause a disaster. People believed that tree-spirits lived in the greenery (holy, ivy etc) they decorated their houses with. The greenery was brought into the house to provide a safe haven for the tree-spirits during the harsh midwinter days. Once this period was over it was necessary to return the greenery back outside to release the tree-spirits into the countryside once again. Failure to do this would mean that vegetation would mean spring would not return, leading to an agricultural disaster.
It was also thought that, if you left the greenery in the house, the tree-spirits would cause mischief in the house until they were released.
Today even though the tree-spirits are long forgotten, the superstition still survives!
Did you know?
The Three Wise Men are not included in the nativity scene until January 6, Three King's Day.
In the reign of Victoria decorations came down on Twelfth Night and generally were burnt.
This is not recommended however and good alternatives are taking your cards to Tescos for recycling as part of the Woodland Trust scheme and unwanted decorations and trees to the state of the art recycling centre on Newtown Road, Newbury.
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