To be honest, I am always quite disappointed when people stop celebrating the Christmas season by Boxing Day. As much as I love everything to do with the season, I would personally feel it was hardly worth putting up a tree a week or two before Christmas and then taking it down within a couple of days afterward. I need the warm-up to the season, and then some wind-down time to savour everything once all the preparation is over. Besides the fact that I am absolutely unwilling to use my time off for un-decorating. Much rather sit with a new book or movie, enjoy the lights, take a snowy walk or two...all while my decorations continue to spread their cheer.
Leaving the decorations up and celebrating the season at least through New Year's seems entirely reasonable (and traditional). What is the rush? I know, I know. Some folks are back to work right after Boxing Day (or work right through it all). I do understand that, and don't want to seem unsympathetic to those in that particular situation. Although, I might respectfully suggest that working through the holiday season is as good a reason as any to leave things up a week or two longer, and meander into the new year without the pressure of having everything packed up and hidden away for another year right after opening the gifts.
At the heart of it, it's not really about the decorations (although I do enjoy seeing the odd tree or house lights twinkling away into January). Do what you must to stay sane and relaxed. The issue is more about the concept of festival, and celebration, and the trouble our fast-paced, efficient, practical (sometimes, anyway) culture seems to have in drawing a thing out, keeping it going, and observing a season, rather than just one day (because I'm not totally sure that the hectic lead-up to Christmas really lets most of us observe the season adequately, so that time period only partly counts). It makes me sad when people ask me on December 27 whether I "had" a good Christmas. I'm just settling into it by then (and usually have one or two primary family gatherings left to attend). I would rather be asked how I am enjoying my Christmas.
To really make the most of things, I plan at some point to develop some 12 days of Christmas traditions, where we mark each day of the season with something - even a small reading, or playing of a particular carol with a focus on the meaning of each symbol and event through the holidays. Today we held an Epiphany open house, to round things out. I've been wanting to do this for a while. Today was Epiphany Sunday, and the Christmas season traditionally and "officially" ends on Epiphany, January 6, which marks the coming of the wisemen and essentially completes the Christmas story.
So there is my rationale/excuse for keeping things going through the first week of January. And besides, we finally have snow, so it would be a shame to have "finished" Christmas already! Actually, we have so much snow that our sidewalk has at least 3 feet of it, which prevented street parking for our open house on the side streets (or meant folks had to walk on the highway to access our place. Thankfully, with our cars on the side streets, and the particular flow of visitors, folks were mostly able to use our driveway). Side note: we have decided, after 9 years with this long driveway and highway snow piles caused by plows, that we need a snowblower.
We may be back to work in the morning, but will be enjoying the Christmas season for a few more days, along with our lights and trees. By next weekend, or sometime the week after, we will be in the mood for putting things away (and bringing out my little snowman collection along with a few white lights to keep the winter twinkling, and ease the transition from full-blown Christmas decor). Still have a few Christmas CDs to enjoy once or twice more, too.
"Epiphany is the climax of the Advent/Christmas Season and the Twelve Days of Christmas, which are usually counted from the evening of December 25th until the morning of January 6th, which is the Twelfth Day (crivoice. org). With it the Christmas season reaches its peak with a commemoration of the arrival of the...kings with gifts for the newborn baby Jesus (theworldwidegourmet. com). [Typically] if the Epiphany does not fall on a Sunday, it is observed on the previous Sunday, which is then called Epiphany Sunday (kencollins. com)."