Twelfth Night Magic: Why New Orleanians Keep Christmas Decorations Up a Little Longer


If you’ve ever strolled through our vibrant streets during the first few weeks of January, you might have noticed something magical – Christmas decorations still aglow, festive lights twinkling, and the holiday spirit lingering a little longer than in other places. So, what’s the deal with us holding onto the festive vibes until Twelfth Night? Let’s unravel the enchanting tradition of keeping Christmas decorations up until the twelfth night after Christmas.

In New Orleans, the holiday season isn’t a sprint; it’s a joyous marathon that extends beyond December 25th. Instead of rushing to take down the decorations the day after Christmas, we extend the festivities to the twelfth night after – January 6th. This date marks the Epiphany, also known as Twelfth Night, the symbolic end of the Christmas season.

The tradition of keeping decorations up until Twelfth Night is tied to the biblical story of the Three Wise Men or Magi. According to Christian tradition, the Magi arrived in Bethlehem to visit the baby Jesus on the twelfth night after his birth, bringing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. New Orleanians embrace this tradition, allowing the holiday decorations to remain in place until this significant day.

Twelfth Night doesn’t just mark the end of Christmas; it’s also the kickoff to Carnival season in New Orleans. As the Christmas decorations come down, they make way for Mardi Gras revelry. The Twelfth Night celebrations often include festive events, king cake parties, and the choosing of kings and queens who will lead the revelry during the upcoming Carnival season.
Beyond the traditions rooted in history and religion, leaving decorations up until Twelfth Night is a communal experience. It creates a shared sense of joy and camaraderie, as neighbors and neighborhoods maintain a unified festive front, celebrating the season together.

New Orleanians are known for their love of celebration and their unique way of infusing joy into everyday life. By leaving Christmas decorations up until Twelfth Night, we’re preserving that festive spirit a little longer. It’s our way of savoring the magic, the warmth, and the togetherness that the holiday season brings.

So, the next time you spot those twinkling lights and festive wreaths lingering into January, know that it’s not just about holding onto the holiday magic a bit longer – it’s a New Orleans tradition, a celebration of community, history, and the promise of exciting times to come in the Carnival season. Here’s to savoring the joy, embracing the traditions, and keeping the festive spirit alive until the last note of Twelfth Night has played. Laissez les bon temps rouler!


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