It was always a tradition in my family to keep the Christmas tree up until Epiphany. I still hold to that tradition even though sometimes the needles begin dropping soon after Christmas. After Epiphany Sunday on 1/6 the tree will come down and we’ll bring it to the church on 1/10 for our Epiphany bonfire. But we have a Moravian star on our front porch that we’ll keep up throughout the entire season of Epiphany. For me, it’s a great reminder of how the light shines in the darkness, which is a consistent theme during Epiphany.
This year, on the 4th Sunday after Epiphany, we will be celebrating the Presentation of our Lord Sunday. This day is also remembered as Candlemas because of an ancient tradition of blessing all the candles to be used in the church in the coming year. It was a way of pointing to Simeon’s confession that this baby Jesus was a light for revelation to the Gentiles. Also happening on this day, a little groundhog by the name of Punxsutawney Phil will come out and try to see his shadow. Throughout Europe traditions of badgers, groundhogs, and other rodents seeing their shadow on this day became intertwined with the Christian celebration of Candlemas and the Presentation of our Lord. Consider all of the symbolism tied to this day of light and darkness!
Here is an ancient English poem titled Candlemas:
If Candlemas Day be fair and bright,
Winter will have another flight;
But if it be dark with clouds and rain,
Winter is gone, and will not come again
So how long should we keep our decorations up? Well, one thought is to leave at least some of our lights up throughout the season following Christmas. It could be a candle in the window, a star on a front porch, or flashing strands wrapped around your deck (if you’re into that sort of thing). And when your neighbors stop and ask you when you’re planning to take down those lights, you suddenly have an opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ. He is the light of the world. He is the light no darkness shall overcome.