Decorating for the Holidays ~ When Do You Start?

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Its hard to believe that this year is winding down and that Christmas is right around the corner.  Each year, it seems we see Christmas decorations appearing earlier and earlier.  Some stores even begin playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving (and a few stores even start before Halloween). In many parts of the United States, fresh Christmas trees go on sale on Thanksgiving Day, and many people now decorate their Christmas trees the weekend after Thanksgiving. But is there a proper time to put up your Christmas tree?

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Historically Speaking

Years ago, the standard tradition for Catholics and most other Christians was to wait to put up their Christmas trees and decorations until the afternoon on Christmas Eve.  The purpose of the tree and the decorations was to celebrate the feast of Christmas, which begins with the celebration of Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.  This tradition made sense on a practical level as well. The freshly cut tree was illuminated with candles. The fire danger from candles increases dramatically each day after the tree has been cut and brought inside.

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Prolonging the Season of Joy

Because of the commercialization of Christmas and the modern creation of a "holiday season" that begins on Thanksgiving Day and runs through Christmas Day (or perhaps through New Year's Day), most Christians today spend this entire season celebrating Christmas.  It's natural, in the cold, gray days of winter, to want to enjoy the pleasures of hearth and home, and the greenery of the tree and the colors of the decorations add to that enjoyment.

In America, some families put up their tree the week before Thanksgiving – the fourth Thursday of November. In many places, people put their trees up at the beginning of Advent – the fourth Sunday before Christmas. In Australia, the tree is usually put up on December 1, about a week before the school holidays.  In general, here in the US, the earliest time to set up Christmas trees for most families is Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

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