In her review of Nick Groom's fascinating new book, The Seasons, the Guardian's Sarah Bakewell highlights one element of how we used to mark the festive season that, as the Twelfth Night approaches, sounds rather appealing to me:
I’m also cheered by the excuse he gave me for not taking the Christmas decorations down promptly. I always thought it was bad luck to leave them up after Twelfth Night, but this is a Victorian idea designed, Groom suggests, to get everyone back to work. Earlier folk left their decorative boughs and conifer sprigs around the house well into February. This brightened up the bleakest months, kept cheery times going until spring was again in sight, and tied up the seasons in a circle. Sounds a jolly good idea.
As I face the prospect of not just dismantling my rather pretty Christmas tree – which has been very well-behaved in the needle-retention department – but having to dispose of it in small chunks in my green recycling bin, I must say I really like the idea of keeping it to brighten up the living room until the days start getting a bit longer again.
In fact, as long as The Christmas Police don't show up at my front door, I'm tempted to keep a decoration-less, trimmed-down version of my tree in the corner of the room for a week or two longer. Until it turns brown and dies, anyway.
Roll on Spring.