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Swedish Ways: Tjugondedag Knut

Admittedly, I could have gone for the obvious one – Friday the 13th – but seeing as how there’s about three of them this year, I thought I’d save it for the next one. Today, there are other things to talk about!

On Tjugondedag Knut (twentieth day Knut), it’s been twenty days after Christmas, today’s name is Knut, and the day means that Christmas is officially over, so it’s time to take the festive decorations down and get on with the new year.

My parents’ tree, Christmas 2010
(haven’t yet transferred the photos of our tree this year from my camera)

When I moved to Britain, I was surprised and a bit sad that as soon as New Year’s had passed, people started to pack away the Christmas decorations. “Already?!” I was left thinking, and was kind of the odd one out for holding out until the 13th of January to take them down. Because that’s the tradition.

Before Knut, it’s Christmas. After Knut, it’s done and dusted, time to move on. Some have probably already started taking their things down, but for those that remain, it’s probably going to happen over the weekend if not today specifically.

Sometimes, you can celebrate the throwing out of the Christmas tree by having a julgransplundring (Christmas tree plundering, I kid you not). You’d take down the decorations and then basically loot any edible decorations from the tree, like candy canes and gingerbread, and so on, and eat them. Perhaps there would be a few turns dancing around the tree as well, before it’s chucked outside in the cold again.

Perhaps less popular these days, I don’t know. We only really did it once, for me, but that was a combined julgransplunding with a very belated (or very early, depending on how you look at it) birthday party. Most of the time, we’d just take down the decorations and put them back in their boxes and stow them away in the loft for next year.

Funny how you never seem to remember packing things away again, isn’t it? You might recall decorating, but not the putting away …

For this season’s tree, which is the first living tree we have bought together, I took down all the glass baubles before going to Sweden, as the tree was starting to droop and didn’t want my nice baubles to break in my absense, so all that’s left to take down is the non-breakable stuff, and then cut off the branches (we’ve had a plastic before, as we never had the space for a real one in the old house, and last year, we didn’t get a real one because we were going away over Christmas), de-needle them and cut to size and put aside for wandmaking. Waste not, want not, and I’m not going to just throw away a perfectly good Norway spruce. There might even be a walking staff or something in there, or failing that, kindling for the fireplace. Just need to find out where the tree used to grow, as I have no idea.

When do you take down your Christmas decorations and do you have any traditions regarding that?

Traxy Thornfield

A Swedish introvert in Robin Hood Country (Nottingham, UK) where she lives with a husband and two cats. She's an eager participant in tabletop and play-by-post roleplaying, woodworking, photography and European travel. Will get a novel out one of these days, if she doesn't get too distracted on the way.

2 thoughts on “Swedish Ways: Tjugondedag Knut

  1. LOL.. every time I see the old Christmas trees lying in the streets (people can put them out and they – eventually – get collected and put to good use by the city) I think of Knut. There used to be an Ikea commercial years ago where someone was walking down the street, dodging Christmas trees being chucked out of windows. Back then I thought it was an advertising joke 🙂
    the connecting thought after that though is ‘polar bear’…. the late Knut was one of the most famous Berliners.
    thanks for this post, made me smile and reminisce 🙂

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