Since we didn't put up our tree until the octave before Christmas, even now it has some life to it. I remember a few years when I was growing up when we left our tree up past Valentine's Day. I don't think we'll make it quite that long--but how long, exactly, should it stay up? When, precisely, does Christmas-time transition into something else?
|Our tree is still up!|
So, there was no dispute in the Klein household that it was Christmas-time as we extended Christmas-day through the end of the year. The Sunday in the octave was the Feast-day of the Holy Family, an entirely appropriate Christmas feast. The octave culminates in New Year's Day, a feast-day in the Church calendar, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.
|After traveling across the fireplace mantel, the Magi adore our Lord in the manger.|
The one sad thing, however, was that this choice left us without a Mass to attend proper to the Epiphany, as the nearest Church with a Latin Mass yesterday was a significant drive away. We did our best to commemorate the Epiphany on our own, including marking the doorway with the year and the names of the Magi--Casper, Melchior, and Balthasar. Happily, we still have a healthy supply of blessed chalk from Mater Dei, our Latin Mass parish back in Dallas.
|The traditional Epiphany marking above the doorways of a house.|
The old calendar gives Christmas an even longer lease on life, perhaps another reason I'm so attached to it. The Feast of the Holy Family, while celebrated the Sunday after Christmas in the new calendar, is reserved for this coming Sunday in the old. The Baptism of the Lord is pushed back a few more days, being a weekday feast (most years) occurring on Jan. 13.
At a minimum, therefore, we'll be keeping the tree up for six more days. After all, there continue to be more needles on the tree than on the floor, if only because we vacuum semi-regularly. Perhaps if we stretch logic just a little, there's even justification to keep the tree up through the end of the month. In the old calendar, after the Baptism of the Lord there is no such season as "Ordinary Time"; rather, there are the "Sundays after Epiphany" through Septuagesima Sunday, the beginning of the two-week period leading up to Lent. I feel that the continued mention of Epiphany is enough of a reason to have a fast-dying pine tree in the house!
Alas, try as I might, I can't justify keeping the tree up through Feb. 14, St. Valentine's Day, though. Believe it or not, that's only four days prior to Ash Wednesday!
|Borrowed from NewLiturgicalMovement.org, here is the proclamation of the dates leading up to Easter, traditionally sung in church on the Feast of the Epiphany.|