Every year there’s plenty of cheerful debate over the “right” day to take down Christmas decorations. Boxing Day? New Year’s Day? January 6? Or just anytime you can be bothered, so long as it’s before the following Christmas?
But for some people, it’s a deeply held superstition. They believe that bad luck will befall anyone who doesn’t take down their tree and tinsel by the end of the 12 days of Christmas. It’s this superstition that led to a woman in the UK being on the receiving end of an unbelievably cruel comment about her pregnancy loss.
The woman, posting on Mumsnet, explained that she’d had a termination for medical reasons at 20 weeks last year because of a serious defect. She explained that all her family knew about it – and she said she still didn’t have any children, despite being pregnant twice.
Last Sunday, she went out for coffee with a family member and mentioned that she hadn’t finished taking down the Christmas decorations yet because of illness in the house.
“She was a bit shocked and said it was really bad luck to leave them up past the 5th and wasn’t I worried about that sort of thing,” the woman wrote. “I was a bit surprised as I didn’t realise she was superstitious so I made a joke about how we ended up leaving our [white] fairy lights up over the fireplace last year as they looked cosy, so we kept them up all year, and the sky didn’t fall in.
“She then said flippantly, ‘Well, you did have that thing with the pregnancy – I would say that was bad luck. If it was me I wouldn’t chance it!’
“I don’t know if I’m being oversensitive but it really seemed like she was saying I could have caused that bad luck by leaving those lights up.”
Midwife Melissa Pearce on the guilt that comes with pregnancy loss. Post continues below…
Oversensitive? Uh, no. The Mumsnet community was unified in their condemnation of the family member. Some of the printable comments they made included “thoughtless”, “utterly crass” and “a raging tit”.
One woman said she’d recently been for her 12-week scan where she’d been warned about things such as smoking, drinking and eating soft cheeses.
“They never mentioned the risks of leaving one’s Christmas decorations up,” she added. “I think the peer-reviewed evidence is probably a bit thin.”
Another woman said she’d also been on the receiving end of an insensitive comment about a superstition, although not in the same league.
“I wore pearl earrings when I got married and a relative said they were bad luck and so-and-so who wore pearls had a very unhappy marriage – nothing to do with the fact that her husband was a twunt.”