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With a lockdown in England and Scotland and restrictions across Wales, many Britons are leaving their Christmas decorations up longer than usual to bring some cheer into the dark weeks ahead.
Decorations are often taken down around 5 or 6 January, in line with Twelfth Night and Epiphany, which marks the visit of the wise men to Jesus.
But it hasn’t always been the case that decorations are put away 10 days after Christmas. In the 17th century, and previously in the Middle Ages, it was far more usual to see them up until 2 February.
That date marks Candlemas in the Church of England calendar, which celebrates the presentation of the infant Jesus in the temple.
According to several reports, the Queen has previously kept hers up until the beginning of February when she leaves Sandringham, which has been the favoured royal home for the festive season for 30 years.
However, the Royal Collection Trust (RCT), which manages many royal residences, and put the decorations up in Windsor Castle, where Her Majesty spent Christmas in 2020, confirmed to Yahoo UK that they are usually taken down in the first week of January, not in February.
One of the Queen’s former employees, Dickie Arbiter, also told Yahoo UK they would be taken down in January.
Buckingham Palace did not comment.
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Dr Michael Carter, senior properties historian at English Heritage, said: “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.
“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.”
The Queen and her family have made Sandringham the favoured location for Christmas for more than 30 years, but she was unable to go there last month due to the ongoing restrictions in the UK to combat the spread of coronavirus.
She decided to have a quiet Christmas at Windsor, where she and Prince Philip spent most of 2020, having returned there shortly before the national lockdown in March.
The castle is managed by the RCT, which decorated it with with a 20ft tree felled from Windsor Great Park at the beginning of December.
Visitors to the castle were able to see the decorations in the public area at the time, though the castle will now be closed again in line with the national lockdown.
If the Queen had been in Sandringham, she would have seen in the new year there, and stayed for another month, heading back around 7 February.
The Queen’s father died on 6 February, 1952, so that became the date of her accession to the throne. But she marks the day quietly and without celebration.
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