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Beyond the Lone Islands

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

The Very Last Day of Christmas

In Swedish tradition, 13th January is the day to throw out the Christmas tree. This is the twentieth day after Christmas, and in our calendar, "the name of the day" is Knut - thus, in Swedish: tjugondedag Knut. And as the Swedish word for 'out' is 'ut', we get a nice rhyme: "Tjugondedag Knut ska julen dansas ut". Exchange Knut for the old English version of the name - Canute - and you almost even get the rhyme (at least in some English dialects): "on twentieth day Canute, dance Christmas out". (If you didn't already know, there was a Viking King of England back in the late 10th/early 11th century by name of Cnut or Canute.)

Any unusual event is reason for a party, and in the good old days (hm) it was also tradition to have a party when it was time to throw out the Christmas tree. This of course arose from the original habit of decorating the tree with edible things, like apples and ginger biscuits and sweets.

Old Christmas Card by Jenny Nyström

I'm not sure how popular the tradition of julgransplundring ("plundering of the Christmas tree") still is. Back in my childhood in the 60s we still had them (for children), even though Christmas tree decorations weren't usually of the edible kind any more. But cakes and sweets were served, and there were games and singing and dancing around the tree; and before you left you also got a bag of sweets to take with you.

I very rarely if ever got to have a birthday party of my own as a child (partly perhaps because I shared birthday with my father). But there were a few getting-rid-of-Christmas-parties.

Today I've started taking down the decorations in my flat, but somehow it feels more like a lot of work than a party...! I think I'll wait a couple of days before I take the box down to the storage room... In some mysterious way, just when you think you've caught all the gnomes, you usually disover another one lurking in some obscure corner...


California Girl said...

the Christmas card illustration is charming. Love it.

We hate taking down the tree but we try to do it New Year's day to avoid prolonging the agony.

rae said...

I like the idea of Christmas lasting past Dec. 25. And any day with food is my kind of celebration!

GB said...

I was amused by the idea of finding a gnome lurking in some unseen corner!


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