When should you put up your Christmas tree?

Photo: iStockDecember 1 is the day when everyone is allowed to put up their Christmas tree.It’s tradition, right? Bad luck to go early?

The Obamas already have their tree, but won’t flip the lights switch until later this week. Boy and girl Scouts were selling fresh Christmas trees at Bunnings on the weekend. If you went by the timing of supermarkets, your tree would have been up for three months already.

Actually, the rule is, there is no rule. Only the rule you grew up with.

Monash University Professor GaryBouma, sociologiston religiousdiversity, saysfamilies and individuals abide by the traditions of Christmas that they grew up with as achild at home.

“It really is what you grew up with, but for some of us it is alsowhen you have the time to throw the thing up,” Professor Bouma said.

He said thetradition of resisting putting up the tree beforeDecember 1 is a strong one in Australia, but not everyone abides by it.

Many Christians will only put up decorations on the night beforeChristmas Eve and never during Advent, which began on Sunday, November 27 this year.

“Traditionally, for many Christians,Advent is a time offasting – none of this extra food that we do normally inAustralia- and you can’tsing Christmas carols,” Professor Bouma said.

“But in Australia I’ve noticed that the partying starts about now,” he said.

He said the Christmas tree was essentially unknown in Britainuntil Prince Albert, a German, brought it to the masses. At the time, periodicalslike theIllustrated London Newsbegan describing the royal tree in intricate detail.

At the White House, President Barak Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will “flip the switch”on December 1, but took delivery of their huge tree on November 25, giving others the right to start thinking about doing the same. It isn’t always on December 1 though, last year it was December 3 – making it the first Thursday in December.

So when should thetree that takes up a lot of space in your lounge room come down?

For some, the tree must come down by January 6 – or the Epiphany when the three kings are said to have arrived. What exactly happens if you don’t pull the tree down by thenisn’t clear. Some sayhobgoblins will come to wreck your house for an entireyear if you don’t pull it down by then.

“There is a largetraditionofChristmastrees coming down by theEpiphany, but that is not true in France. InFrance, it starts amonthofcelebrations and eating,” he said.

The Epiphany heralds the arrival of thegallettederois- the cake of kings – apastry and marzipan affair baked in rings.

Professor Boumasaid the tradition of pulling down trees in Australia by January 6 might be because of the warmer climate.He saidin Europe and America the trees would often stay up well afterChristmas, until they driedout and became a fire hazard. He said those trees were heavily hydrated compared to Australian fresh Christmas trees, which grew under drier conditions.

“They are bad enough when they are new and full of juice but they dry out and become tinderbox,” he said.

For others it is when they get tired of the cat attacking the tree and pulling off the decorations.

Professor Bouma said the good thing about the great Christmas tree dispute is that it makes for lively conversations.

​”I don’t want tocomplainabout Christmas tradition crossing civilisations. People will have disputes about local variations and this enriches conversations and traditions that families find terribly important,” Professor Bouma said.

Brisbane Times

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