January 4, 2021

Staying Lit through the Long Metro Vancouver Winter?

The Duke of Data at Simon Fraser University’s City Program Andy Yan suggested it first: if you have Christmas lights up on your condo railing or your abode, why not keep them up longer this year to get through the dark, dull, rainy part of each Metro Vancouver winter. No one will judge you, especially this year.

This idea of bringing in more light in the darkest part of winter is feasible too with the energy efficient outdoor lighting now widely used. And the idea of keeping Christmas lights up (or jazzing them up with colours that are not so directly Christmas festive) has been adopted elsewhere.

The City of Kitchener Ontario’s mayor Berry Vrbanovic is encouraging people to keep their Christmas lights up through January stating: “Seeing our neighbourhoods lit up with lights and decorations has been a wonderful way to feel connected as a community – I love the idea of stretching that festive atmosphere into the new year as we continue to get outside for safe neighbourhood walks and physical activity.”

And in Salem Virginia, residents are urged to keep Christmas lights up to honour the front line healthcare workers through January. This is part of a national campaign urging municipalities and organizations across the United States to keep Christmas lights up until January 31, and to spread the word on social media with the hashtag ##LightsUp4Heroes. In Colorado,the initiative is being embraced state wide.

There is also a historical precedent~in Great Britain, the feasting, decorations, Christmas cakes and puddings used to continue for a much longer period than what we typically do today, in tucking everything away by early January.

The holiday swag would come out for St. Martin’s Day in early November and continue on until Candlemas Day, which is February 2. This was done before central heating and the development of electric light and modern comforts, when the importance of bright decorations and hearty food fuelled people through dark winters.

In a winter where our typical community connections have radically changed, being lit longer may be an idea that has come full circle.

The  YouTube video below from the BBC comedy show  QI (which stands for Quite Interesting) discusses the culture and history of when to take down Christmas decorations in the British historical perspective. That’s actress Carrie Fisher along with host Stephen Fry in the clip.



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  1. Having been raised in England in the 1950s, I was taught that all decorations should be down by 12th night which is tomorrow. My memory may be a little bleary about stuff so long ago, but I certainly don’t recall any of my friends having their tree etc up after that date.

    That being said, I think it is a great idea to keep exterior lights up until Spring.

    1. I am also from the UK. I believe the twelve days of Christmas started on St Stephens Day, now renamed Boxing Day. Therefore this celebration includes Wednesday 6th January. Like you Jak, we can break the old rules. I’ll keep mine going until the 31st and say three hail mary’s to the high priesthood of environmentalism begging forgiveness in the name of social sustainability.

  2. The 12th day of Christmas is January 6th – the day the wisemen visited (Epiphany).
    I always find it odd that some people rush to take down their trees during the ‘middle’ of the Christmas period but I suppose the tree chipping people like to do business on the weekends.

    Remember that the Orthodox calaendar is opffset by 13 days, so Orthodox Christmas is on January 7th.
    A Greek Orthodox friend of mine used to say they’d buy presents on Boxing Day.

    WRT lights, my strata bylaws allow exterior lightsfrom December 1st to January 31st – and I take full advantage of that period! I suppose that January 31st accommodates the Orthodox calendar.
    I did also display them during the 2010 Olympics (as did others) without official strata authorization and there were no warnings or complaints.

  3. Unfortunately LED lights are a good example of the paradox of energy efficiency. The cheaper they are to run, the more we run them. And then back to the beginning we go. However, if we are going to destroy the world, I would definitely do it for christmas lights. Almost my favourite thing about the season.

  4. What a coincidence! I read this after putting a post on Kitsilano Now and then to suggest we keep our lights up! I always leave mine up anyhow as I find they brighten the dark days of winter which are even darker this year. I am originally from UK and tend to ignore the “down by twelfth night” superstition!
    I never get them up until just before Christmas.
    But this year I am thinking of them as winter lights…not Christmas lights. Let’s keep them glowing!