Why don’t we decorate until right before Christmas?

This is a question that was requested and is actually discussed a lot in church-nerd circles. As many of you know, the Episcopal Church has what we call “liturgical seasons” throughout the year. Each season is meant to commemorate something—a specific event, period of time, or particular theme in Christian history. And there are physical signs in the church that help us to delineate one season from the next—the color of the altar linens change, certain candles go up or are taken down (e.g. paschal candle, Advent candles), and the types of miscellaneous decorations we use in church change as well.

In order to properly acknowledge the beginning of the Christmas season, we at St. Thomas hold off on decorating for Christmas until after the celebration of the Eucharist on the last Sunday of Advent. It’s similar to how we do not bring lilies and other festive flowers into the church during Lent, but instead wait until Easter to bring in such decoration. It helps to remind us to fully live into each liturgical season, and appropriately honor and outwardly-display the changes of the seasons.

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