When should you put up your Christmas tree and decorations?

  • Traditionally, Christmas trees and decorations are put up at the start of Advent when Christians begin celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ

  • Advent begins on the fourth Sunday ahead of Christmas. So, this year, Advent is on Sunday, 27 November

  • Many of us opt to put up our Christmas decorations at an earlier date with research showing that people who do so are generally happier

  • But how early is too early? Read on to learn more about the why we decorate for Christmas - and when to take your decorations down

Cropped hand of woman decorating and hanging baubles to depict the date to put up a Christmas tree and decorations
The traditional date to put up a Christmas tree and decorations is at the start of Advent, which falls on the fourth Sunday ahead of Christmas. (Getty Images)

Deciding when to deck the halls is a great divider. Although it certainly feels like winter outside and some of us are antsy to start decorating for the festive season, there are several different traditions and beliefs as to when we should start putting up the Christmas tree and decorations.

While some prefer to wait until mid to late December to dig out the decorations, others like to get their Christmas on the minute Halloween is out of the way – we're looking at you, Mariah.

But when is the official date we should be getting the house all festive for Christmas?

What does tradition say?

Traditionally, Christmas trees should be put up and decorated at the start of Advent, which is the season when Christians prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, known as Advent Sunday, and always ends on Christmas Eve (24 December).

This means that this year, Advent falls on Sunday, 27 November.

Read more: Free Christmas decorations: Here's how to forage for an eco-friendly festive season

So, if you're keen to follow tradition, this is the earliest date that you should be putting your tree up.

Some say it’s unlucky to put your tree up prior to this date. However, other traditions also claim that popping up your tree more than 12 days before Christmas is unlucky, too.

Meanwhile, Roman Catholic tradition states that Christmas trees shouldn't be put up until the afternoon of Christmas Eve, as any time earlier than this was also deemed to be bad luck.

Photo of Christmas tree surrounded by presents and a roaring fire.
Research shows that putting up your decorations early could make you happier - does that ring true for you? (Getty Images)

The psychology of putting your decorations up early

Although traditionally, the tree would go up much closer to Christmas Day, it’s become almost normal practice to see the decorations going up in the middle of November or even earlier.

Queer Eye’s Tan France unashamedly puts his Christmas tree up every year on October 31, part of a Halloween tradition he started more than a decade ago.

“Who cares about Halloween costumes, when it’s the 11th year of our Christmas-Tree-on-Halloween-tradition?” France captioned an image shared on Instagram of his floor to ceiling fake festive fir last year.

Before the “it’s too early” brigade start sounding off about the festive fast-forward, it's worth noting that digging out the decs sooner rather than later can actually give your mental health a boost.

"Research has shown that people who put up their decorations super-early are generally happier and even more friendly," explains Lucy Beresford, psychotherapist, relationship expert and broadcaster.

Beresford says the pandemic has also made people keen to seize the moment.

"They remember how Christmas [2020] was affected and don’t want to be caught out. They currently cannot see the point in waiting until Christmas Eve or even until December to dive into the festive season."

And according to experts, going early on Christmas can also reveal a lot about you as a person.

Read more: Make Your Home Merry and Bright with These DIY Christmas Decorations

"You may be an incredibly organised person who likes to be prepared and enjoys planning things in advance," suggests Dr Elena Touroni, a consultant psychologist and co-founder of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic. "You’re the kind of person who likes to feel 'ready' and avoid any last minute stress."

Of course it could also say that you’re someone who just really loves Christmas.

"Perhaps it provides memories of childhood that were special?" Dr Touroni asks. "Or maybe Christmas wasn’t special enough growing up and you’re trying to make up for that.

"In therapy, we sometimes refer to the part of us that gets excited about things in a childlike way as 'happy child mode'. So it may, for instance, say that you’re someone who’s in touch with their happy child mode and likes to have fun."

Why do we decorate for Christmas?

For many of us, we’ve been putting up trees and decorating our homes for as long as we can remember.

But this custom can actually be traced back centuries ago, through both history and religion.

For thousands of years, both Pagans and Christians would bring in evergreen trees to celebrate winter festivals.

How early is too early to get your Christmas on? (Getty Images)
How early is too early to get your Christmas on? (Getty Images)

For Pagans, trees were put up during the winter solstice. Its branches were a reminder that spring that was just around the corner.

Romans would decorate temples at the festival of Saturnalia with fir trees. And for Christians, fir trees represented resilience and were used as a sign of everlasting life with God.

Over time this morphed into the Christmas tree tradition.

Read more: Best UK beauty advent calendars 2022, from John Lewis to Liberty

Christians in Germany are heavily credited for starting the Christmas tree tradition, as many them started decorating trees that they brought in from outside. Those who couldn’t afford a tree or didn’t have access to any would get creative and make their own trees using wooden pyramids.

Some of the first Christmas trees in Germany were decorated with sweets, such as gingerbread men and gold-covered apples.

And when it comes to Christmas lights, the tradition can be traced all the way back to Yule, a Norse tradition celebrating midwinter.

This tradition involved drinking “Yule”, a type of beer, while watching the Yule log burn. Lighting the Yule log was believed to call for the return of the sun whilst also driving away evil spirits.

In Christian terms, it’s been argued that this idea represents Jesus lighting up the darkness.

When should we officially de-Christmas?

Just as there is some debate about when to put them up, there's also a division about when to take it all back down again.

When should we de-Christmas? (Getty Images)
When should we de-Christmas? (Getty Images)

While some people might be keen to de-Christmas the minute you've pulled the last cracker, others like to hang on to that festive cheer for as long as possible.

In Christianity, the traditional date to take your Christmas tree down is 6th January – 12 days after Christmas.

This is because celebrations last for 12 days from the birth of Jesus, so the Twelfth Night – or the twelfth day after Christmas – officially marks the end of the festive season.

Leaving Christmas decorations up any longer after this date is widely considered to be unlucky.

Read more: Best wooden Christmas advent calendars you can reuse for years to come

And just as going early on getting the tinsel up says a lot about our personality, so too does whipping them straight back down.

"You may be the kind of person who enjoys the lead up and anticipation of Christmas more than anything else," explains Dr Touroni.

"Or maybe you feel a sense of sadness that it is over and you don’t want to be reminded of it."

Alternatively Dr Touroni suggests it could just mean you like to be organised and see it as a task that you want to complete as soon as possible.

Watch: Christmas loving Brits vow to light up the UK this season despite crippling energy costs