If only the holidays could last throughout the winter months—the twinkling lights and Christmas cookies make the cold and dark so much more bearable. For this reason, I once kept my tree up until March—I know, I know, and I’m the first to admit that that was a terrible idea. But when is the best time to take down your tree?
Natural trees last about four weeks
Freshly cut trees can last about four to five weeks if taken care of properly. If you purchased your tree precut, your tree might last on the shorter end of that range. A freshly cut tree may last longer than five weeks with adequate watering. Dry trees can easily catch fire, which can spread throughout your home, so it’s crucial to take down your tree before it dries up. If watering your Christmas tree has not been at the top of your list, be sure to take the tree down within four weeks of putting it up.
Celebrate New Year’s Eve by taking your tree down
If you have a faux tree, drying out is, of course, not a concern. So choosing a date depends on other factors. Some people believe that leaving your tree up after the new year is bad luck. Take down your tree on December 31, before midnight, to avoid bringing misfortune from the old year into the new. (If you believe in that sort of thing.)
Take your tree down on Three Kings Day
According to some Christian traditions, decorations are meant to be taken down on the “Twelfth Night” or “Epiphany,” also known as “Three Kings Day.” The twelve days of Christmas actually begin on Christmas day, and the Twelfth Night, also known as Three Kings Day, lands on January 6th. Epiphany celebrates the day the three wise men brought gifts to Jesus in the manger. In Latinx traditions, El Dia De Los Reyes is an annual celebration (usually involving a nativity play). The tree and decorations are all removed after the festival.
Do as the Queen of England does
Her Majesty, the Queen of England, leaves her Christmas tree up through February 6 to honor her father’s passing. George VI died in 1957 when Queen Elizabeth II was 25 years old. To this day, she commemorates his passing by holding on to the festive decorations until after the anniversary of his death.
Follow your neighborhood’s tree disposal schedule
You can’t throw out your natural tree with the regular garbage; instead, your city or town will have scheduled Christmas tree removal procedures. New York City holds “Mulchfest” for one week each year, during which you can bring your old tree to you local park to watch it get chopped up. Otherwise, unless you have a wood chipper of your own, you will need to put your tree out on a specified date or take it to a tree disposal location. Find removal dates and disposal locations in your area and plan your holiday decoration removal accordingly.