The Christmas holidays are already behind us with all their excesses of food, meetings and gifts. The final touch took place on January 6 with the celebration of Three Kings Day or Epiphany of the Lord. Since then, many Spaniards have returned to their daily routines, which includes taking down Christmas decorations. But it is enough to take a simple look through balconies and windows to see that in many houses the tree, the nativity scene, the tinsel and the lights are still installed. There are people who will leave the decorations until February and not because of laziness.

It is said that there are two kinds of people: those who rush to put all the Christmas decorations in boxes as soon as January 6 passes and those who do not. In this second group we find people who have not carried out the tedious process of disassembly and storage due to lack of time or for other reasons of procrastination, but there are also those who leave the decorations out of tradition.

In some homes, Christmas decorations will not be removed until February 2. This date is the end of the Christmas liturgical cycle, which runs from December 25, the feast of the Birth of Jesus, to February 2, the feast of the Purification. That is, a period of 40 days.

February 2 is the day of the Virgin of Candelaria, a holiday that celebrates the presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple and the purification of the Virgin Mary 40 days after childbirth, to fulfill the prescription of the Old Testament Law.

That day candles are lit in the windows and churches to honor Mary and it is the date on which the Vatican removes the Christmas decorations.

Taking down the Christmas tree in the first week of January (not to mention doing it in February) is a strange custom in countries where Three Kings’ Day is not celebrated. It should be remembered that the liturgical celebrations of the Epiphany are a minority in the world and are mainly found in Spanish-speaking countries such as Spain, Bolivia, Cuba, Honduras, Peru, Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic.

Removing the Christmas tree in the first week of January is very surprising in some countries where Three Kings Day is not celebrated. There are places that keep everything after December 25 (or Boxing Day, the 26th), although most do so after celebrating New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Eve, that is, January 2.

However, countries like the United Kingdom maintain the decoration until the Epiphany of the Lord by tradition, although in those lands it is not a festive date. Of course, removing the tree later than January 6 is said to bring bad luck due to an ancient belief that trees contain spirits that must be released.