First sighting of Christmas tree in Aughnacloy!

WHAT WHAT could be Northern Ireland's first Christmas tree of 2021 has been spotted in Co Tyrone – and it has been there almost a week already.

McKeever’s Chemists in Aughnacloy has had Christmas decorations up on its windows since September 29.

Tradition usually dictates that Christmas trees should be put up at the beginning of Advent, which begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day. This year it falls on November 28.

However, McKeever’s “always start early” with its festive accessories, according to pharmacy assistant, Sharon Brush, who added that the ornaments are “cheerful”.

“Halloween does come up, but Christmas takes over,” added her colleague, Keith.

”You get plenty of comments on the decorations, mostly positive, but you get the odd people coming in surprised or shocked. It usually goes down well though.”

With the Covid-19 pandemic ongoing, people may be opting for earlier Christmas decorations to encourage more festive cheer, especially as last year’s celebrations felt different to years gone by, with lockdown restrictions and Coronavirus cases rising in Northern Ireland.

While some may opt to hold off on decking the halls with boughs holly just yet, there are also prompts to leave Christmas decorations up well into the new year.

In January 2021, a charity that manages historic monuments, English Heritage, appealed for people across the UK to not take their ornaments down until Candlemas on February 2.

The day’s full name – Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary – was the official end of Christmas in medieval England.

In the 16th century, Yuletide celebrations began on Halloween and continued until Candlemas – meaning festivities lasted a quarter of a year – so perhaps McKeever’s may be onto something after all.

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