Why Queen Elizabeth II Kept Her Holiday Decorations Up Through February

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John Stillwell/WPA Pool/Getty Images / John Stillwell/WPA Pool/Getty Images

If your family and friends have been ribbing you lately because your lawn still looks like Santa’s satellite workshop, here’s a reasonable counterargument: Queen Elizabeth II left her holiday decorations up at least until February 6.

The queen and Prince Philip regularly spent the holiday season at Sandringham House, a stately Norfolk country residence. Ownership passed to the queen after her father, King George VI, died there on February 6, 1952. Since then, she observed the anniversary of his death at Sandringham, letting the decorations remain until after she had returned to Buckingham Palace.

According to HELLO! magazine, Sandringham House’s seasonal trappings are typically a bit more subtle than the extravagant lights and towering evergreens of the Crown’s more public estates like Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. At Sandringham, however, the royal family actually helps decorate; as mentioned on the official royal website, members of the royal family “usually put the final touches on their Christmas tree.”

Long-lasting Christmas decorations weren’t the only way the queen celebrated King George VI’s legacy during the holidays. Following the tradition set by her father (and his father before him), the queen gifted a total of about 1500 Christmas puddings to her staff, including palace personnel, police, and Court Post Office workers. Each pudding—a spiced fruit cake, rather than the creamy, gelatinous dessert Americans think of when they hear the term pudding—came with a holiday greeting card from Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

For the first time since 2019, the royal family gathered at Sandringham for Christmas 2022—though it was a bittersweet reunion, as it was the first holiday season since the queen’s death on September 8, 2022. While the queen always remained at Sandringham through February, in order to mark the anniversary of her father’s death in private, recent reports suggest that King Charles may break with his mother’s longtime tradition by returning to London in January. Whether the holiday decor will disappear with him is not yet known.

A version of this story ran in 2021; it has been updated for 2022.