THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
As the UK re-entered a national lockdown, English Heritage have called on people across the country to keep their holiday decorations up in order to combat the challenges posed by this uncertain winter season.
The organization, which protects and preserves historical properties across England, issued a reminder that traditionally, decorations were kept up until February, as part of a tradition known as Candlemas. In medieval England, Candlemas was celebrated as the end of the festive season, taking place on the 40th day after Christmas. On that date, February 2, a great feast would be held, and candles in local churches would be blessed for the coming year.
Explaining the history, Dr Michael Carter, English Heritage’s Senior Properties Historian, said that "In the Middle Ages, houses would be decorated with greenery for the Christmas season on Christmas Eve day. The feast of Christmas started at around 4pm on Christmas Eve afternoon and continued until the Epiphany on 6 January. But contrary to popular belief, the Christmas season actually continues right through to Candlemas on 2 February so there's no real reason why you should take your decorations down earlier."
For many Brits, taking their decorations down early is part of a more recent suggestion that keeping them up will bring bad luck. Dr Carter added that "The tradition that it is bad luck to keep decorations up after Twelfth Night and the Epiphany is a modern invention, although it may derive from the medieval notion that decorations left up after Candlemas eve would become possessed by goblins! I’m of the opinion that, after the year we’ve all had, we certainly deserve to keep the Christmas cheer going a little longer."
If your decorations are still up, English Heritage are asking you to bring some cheer to social media by taking a photo and sending it to them. For more information, go to www.english-heritage.org.uk