Good Question: When Should Xmas Lights Come Down?

By Jason DeRusha, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When we see the first twinkle of the lights in early December, it is amazing, even magical. But eighteen days after the holiday? So, when is the right time to take down Christmas decorations?

“Every girl needs a little sparkle,” said Lisa Scherber, who has lights all around her Robbinsdale house.

There’s a reindeer still lit up in the front, a snowman in the back.

“I still drive home from work and it looks so pretty,” laughed Scherber, who said her husband tried to get her to shut the lights off.

“I told my wife I was gonna pull the plug Sunday,” said Terry Scherber.

“I think he can’t find the plugs,” laughed Lisa.

Like a good husband, Terry let Lisa have her way.

“If that makes her happy, it keeps me happy, too,” he said.

But Terry is paying the price for having his lights still illuminated.

“Today while I shoveled, somebody honked at me, I waved. He slowed down and said ‘Christmas is over’ and with an expletive,” he said.

It’s not like with political campaign signs. It’s Minnesota law those have to be down 10 days after the election. But in San Diego, California, you can get a $250 fine if your lights are still up after Feb. 2.

The Urban Dictionary even has a term for these people: Nerkles. It’s a combination of nerd and sparkle.

In Minneapolis, Brad Sutton admitted his giant wreath probably should be unplugged.

“I’ll be honest, we’re past that point. A week past the New Years, that’s enough,” said Sutton, as he sheepishly walked to the second story of his house and pulled the power cord.

Lisa Scherber said the end of January is her drop-dead point for leaving the lights on.

“It starts to look a little pathetic when the snow is melting, so we do turn them off,” she said.

Todd Zimmerman proposed a staggered system of light deadlines: “Christmas Lights stay on until the day after Christmas then they are off period. I actually don’t take down the outside Christmas lights until is is warm enough (like March, April, June, whatever) and the snow is off the roof. Inside Christmas lights and decorations come day New Years Day.”

But as Nancy Aleshire wrote on my blog, “Keeping lights up is a matter of personal preference. There are no laws against it. If people don’t like it they should get a life.”

WCCO-TV’s Jason DeRusha Reports

More from Jason DeRusha
  • Dan

    If you enjoy the lights, and they bring a bit of sparkle to the darkness of winter, what is the problem? Have we grown THAT cynical?

  • Linda

    My household works very hard to use minimal lights for all purposes as a way to save energy. I do enjoy the decorative holiday lights that others display and allow that the lights are a celebration. A few days after the holiday, however, I start seeing them as energy that could be saved.

    • Lisa

      The LED Lights we use do not use that much energy – get over it.

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  • Kristina

    I agree with Dan. We need something else to look at other than frozen, snowy tundra every now and then. Plug that wreath back in, Brad!!

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  • Arcy

    The official Christmas season is Dec 25 until January 8th. Possibly if some of the grinches wouldn’t start so soon they wouldn’t be in a hurry to shut them off.

    This year ours will be up until the snow melts and we can reach them!!

  • Sgt

    we still have nutcracjkers up.

  • Barb

    If the complainers are not paying the electric bill, get a life!!! Also with all the snow this year, people can’t get the lights down. There are more important things in life to be concerned about. Stop complaining & think of the people in Tucson!!!

  • Mark from Minnetonka, MN

    Well here is to all the people who want us to take our lights down. “Mind your own freaking business” Sorry that is the only way I could put it.

  • Bill

    So I don’t get it, when are we supposed to shut are lights off, isn’t that what the good question was about or did I miss the answer.

  • Leave Them On

    What ever happened to leaving the lights on the 12 days of Christmas? That would be until January 5th!

  • Dave

    When I lived in Kenyon, MN, the lights were unplugged New Years Day and I would dig out the figures then too. The rest would come down as the weather permitted. I moved to S.C. this past Oct., the lights were unplugged Jan. 1st but due to ran, I had to wait to take them down Jan. 2nd. Beginning of the new year is when they should be off in my book.

  • Billy

    If people would stop sticking ther nose i others business

  • joe

    Per the NEC article 590.3, Para B, Holiday displays are limited to 90 days. Users can be cited by the Authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) which would be code enforcement – electrical.

    So there is a law governing this.

  • Jessica

    Our lights stay up until after Eastern Orthodox Christmas, which is on January 7th (married into religion). Stop worrying about petty things and start worrying about what really matters. Move on and get over yourself.

  • w

    who cares? yay for jessica. so much crap going on for people, and this is what they throw hissy fits over? must be nice to have such boring peaceful lives….



  • Bob

    San Diego, where the winter temps plummet into the frozen 50’s. Give them 3′ feet of snow and see if there ordinance changes.

  • ellie

    They’re “winter lights” at our house, folks. They stay up as long as we’re still in the dark nights of winter. We also enjoying seeing the other lights that are still on — so keep them up if you’re so inclined! (But do switch to LEDs if you can.)

  • JH

    Technically, Christmas begins on Christmas Eve or Day, and runs through Epiphany (hence the 12 days of Christmas). The period before Christmas is known as Advent. Therefore, I think it is appropriate to have lights up during that entire time, but after Epiphany it is ridiculous.

  • mary

    I don’t mind seeing strings of lights on bushes and rooflines after the holidays are over, they add a bit of cheer on dark winter nights. But any images really specific to Christmas should probably be turned off after 01.06 (the 12th Day of Christmas) at the very latest. We don’t have outdoor decorations at our house but I try to get my indoor decor down around 01.06, time permitting.

    Jason mentions that San Diego sets a deadline of February 2. Actually, in merrie olde England that was the traditional date for having the house de-decorated

  • Faith

    My last southern Catholic mother-in-laws told me in no uncertain terms the end of the holiday season was Jan. 6th. This is 12 days after the birth of Christ and is honoring each of the His disciples. The beginning of the season was current man’s doing. Macy at the END of his Thanksgiving parade ushered in the buying season with the arrival of Santa Claus.

  • Rebecca

    I say the lights stay on until it stops snowing. Christmas lights are very therapeutic. They help us through the dark, cold, snowy winters here in Minnesota! We need all the help we can get living here. You can’t compare us to San Diego!!
    Jason, this seems to be your deal more than anything. I don’t think you answered the question. Instead, you’ve turned into the Christmas lights police patrol. Kind of pathetic if you ask me.

  • snerkie

    the winter is too long and cold. these lights help brighten the world a little. i don’t care if you leave it up. it reminds me of the good times christmas brought.

  • Hockeymama

    My lights didn’t get turned on til December 1, unlike my neighbors with lights and TREES UP IN THEIR HOUSES LIT in early November!!! Geez, the shopping season is barely over and people take their things down. Christmas starts on the 25th. I keep everything up til the I’m a little late this year… get over it people with no lives!

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