There’s always a bit of confusion over Twelfth Night. Some people believe it’s the night of 5 January. Others regard 6 January, the feast of the Epiphany, as Twelfth Night.
Whatever the actual timing, you can always tell roughly when it is in our neighbourhood. This is not because we indulge in medieval traditions, such as mumming or wassailing, or electing a Lord of Misrule. It’s because the streets are filled with discarded Christmas trees.
When I was a child, I remember reading that if you left your Christmas decorations up after Twelfth Night, they would turn into goblins, who would run through the house creating chaos.
Yesterday, I discovered that there were indeed small evil creatures intent on havoc in my domain. They weren’t goblins, however, but squirrels. Squirrels, in my experience, are vicious little beasts. They will decapitate certain plants seemingly just for fun, leaving behind a disconsolate-looking stump and a bitten-off clump of leaves nearby. I’ve now realised they’re partial to fairy lights. We put some up in the garden. I noticed the lights didn’t seem to be on any more. The flex had been neatly scissored through - so neatly, I thought someone had accidentally cut through it, until I noticed the exploratory bitemarks either side.
There are certain immutable laws that govern the taking down of Christmas decorations. No 1: you can never get the fairy lights back into their box. No 2: whatever method you use to put up your Christmas cards, there will be bits of missing paint or wallpaper when you take them down again. No 3: you always accidentally recycle the Christmas cards that have people’s new addresses on them. No 4: something will get broken. And No 5: even if you manage to pack away all the decorations, the box will sit in a corner for the next six weeks. Have a great weekend.