Tjugondag Knut

Christmas, it seems, is finally over in Sweden. Yesterday was Tjugondag Knut (literally “twentieth day Knut”) in this dark northern land. Most of the rest of the world finished with Christmas a week ago, at Epiphany, the twelfth night. But here in Sweden Christmas is prolonged a week, though I don’t know why. There is a rhyme that goes like this: Tjugondag Knut dansas julen ut. The Christmas tree is “plundered” – in other words the decorations are removed and the Christmas tree thrown out. But who is Knut, I wondered? No-one special, it seems. Its just that the 13th of January is the name’s day for Knut.

As with so much in our lives, our tree plundering too was a day late, but tonight we took down the decorations and dragged our brittle fir (definitely our most glorious Christmas tree ever) out into the garden, dropping enormous piles of green pine needles on the way. I spent an hour cleaning up the mess afterwards. The sky is clear tonight, dotted with stars. The snow has disappeared after a few days of warm weather above freezing, but today the temperature has dropped again and there is a crunchy layer of frost lying thick on the ground. Christmas may have passed, and the days are getting longer, but winter still has its icy grip on our little corner of the world.

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