Christmas day has been and gone - but it does not necessarily mean the festive season is over.

Don't start taking down the baubles and tinsels just yet. While the date we put up a Christmas tree differs for everyone, according to traditions we've had for centuries, there's a specific day to take down your decorations.

And it is believed that taking decorations down too early or leaving them on after this date could bring bad luck.

So when should I take down my Christmas decorations?

Traditionally, we should all take down our decorations on the Twelfth Night - which is twelve days after Christmas.

This is on January 5 or 6 - depending on whether you start counting the days on or after Christmas day.

According to the Church of England, Twelfth Night is January 5. But other Christian groups believe it is January 6.

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Only real fir trees are recyclable. Photo: Pixabay

What is Twelfth Night?

The Twelfth Night marks the final day of Christmas and the coming of the three wise men to baby Jesus.

It was when families would celebrate with cake, music, games and drinking.

Why does this tradition exist?

People believed tree spirits lived in the greenery that adorned homes - such as holly and ivy.

So if the decorations were not taken down at the right time, it was believed there would be agricultural problems and food shortages in the next year.

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Taking your decorations down too early or too late could be bring bad luck. Photo: Pixabay

Superstitions suggest that if decorations are left out after Twelfth Night, they had to be left out for the rest of the year. (No one wants to see a Christmas tree in August.)

The tradition of taking down decorations on Twelfth Night is practised across Europe. In the UK, it took off when Prince Albert had a Christmas tree put up at Windsor Castle.

How can I get rid of my Christmas tree

While it is easy to set a time to take down the festive decorations, getting rid of a real fir tree can be a bit more of a hassle.

You can recycle your tree by chopping it up to use as outdoor fire fuel. But be sure to keep the fire outside. When fir trees burn, they release creosote - a toxic and flammable substance consisting mainly of tar. Creosote can build up inside your chimney and increase the risk of a chimney fire.

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Recycle your tree by turning it into compost. Photo: Pixabay

You can also use your tree for mulch or compost. There are many places that can put your tree through a wood chipper to be turned into mulch and compost. Try contacting a tree surgeon.

The most fuss-free way of getting rid of your tree is to hand it to your council to be recycled.

Local authorities often arrange drop-off points or special collections of real Christmas trees in early January. The trees can be shredded and then used in parks or woodland areas.

Check your council's website for more information or search for your nearest recycling location on recyclenow.com