The 13. January stands in the calendar the curious holidays from around the world marks the end of the 20-day Scandinavian Christmas season. Because this date is celebrated in Finland (nuutinpaiva), Norway (St. Knuts dag or: tyvendedags jul) and Sweden (tjugondedag jul or: tjugondag Knut) as the St. Knut Day. Reason enough to make a detour to northern Europe and illuminate the history of this occasion in a little more detail.
Christmas tree on the street © 2013 Sven Giese
When is St.-Knut Day?
The St.-Knut day falls in the Scandinavian countries always on 13. January and officially marks the end of the Christmas season.
Why does St.-Knut on the 13. January?
More holidays – the extended Scandinavian Christmas season. While in most Christian traditions, the Christmas season is only 13 days long and runs from 25. December (1. Christmas Day) until 6. While the Christmas holiday is celebrated on January 13 (Epiphany), the aforementioned Scandinavian countries celebrate it one week longer and thus have 20 days (see also the article on the Irish Women’s Christmas (Irish: Nollaig na mBan – engl. Christmas of the women) on 6. January).
Strictly speaking, however, this is also still a shortening, because until the liturgical reform, the Christmas season in the Catholic liturgy lasted even until 2. February, which today is known as the Presentation of the Lord or. Candlemas is celebrated.
Which countries celebrate Knuts Day?
Knuts Day is celebrated mainly in the Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Norway and Finland.
St. Knut IV: Finland, Norway, Sweden and a Danish king
Although St.-Knut Day is celebrated exclusively in the three countries mentioned above, its historical origins are in Denmark. Because the name of this curious holiday goes back to the saint Knut IV. (ca. 1040 – 1086 n.Chr.), who was also King of Denmark and is still considered the patron saint of the country today.
In ecclesiastical history, Knut is regarded as a ruler whose policies were always oriented to the advantage of the Catholic Church. Since he was slain in a church, he was declared a martyr and pronounced a saint in 1101 n.Chr. holy. About the actual background of the St.-Knut day, however, there are very different data: While some sources claim that Knut IV. on 13. January 1086 n.Chr. Other historical testimonies report that this date coincided with his order to extend the Christmas season to 20 days.
Both theses, however, are considered by no means certain, and against the reference to the date of his death actually speaks that his memory is commemorated by the Catholic Church on 10. July is celebrated.
A Christmas tree is disposed of. Carrying On (2004) by Janet Zweig & Edward del Rosario. New York, Prince Street Subway Station © 2018 Sven Giese.
At the end of the Christmas season: How do you celebrate St in Scandinavia?.-Knut day?
In contrast to many other countries and regions, where the Christmas tree is decorated on the occasion of Epiphany on the 6th day of the month, this is not the case. January decorating (see also the article on the US Take Down the Christmas Tree Day (engl. If you want to build the Christmas tree), in Scandinavia you have to postpone it a little bit.
Because here one removes traditionally only on 13. January the ornaments and candles from the Christmas trees. Still many families and communities in Finland, Norway and Sweden celebrate this as a solemn act, which in Sweden is celebrated with the julgransplundring, of the plundering of the Christmas tree has its peak (see also the article on the nationwide day of the Christmas tree from books in Germany on 15. December).
This is of course especially popular with children, if the tree is/was decorated with sweets. At the end of the celebration at the St.-Knut day the Swedes dispose then the tree from the dwelling. To this last aspect refer since some years also the advertising campaigns of the Swedish furniture company Ikea, in which the tree on Knut – so the holiday is called here usually shortened – is thrown in very different ways from the apartments.
And who has nothing with flying Christmas trees at the hat, that/that can today alternatively also the US-American day of the peach Melba (Engl. National Peach Melba Day), the day of the squeaky duck (engl. Rubber Ducky Day), the day of the stickers (engl. National Sticker Day), the Realize Your Dreams Day (engl. Make Your Dreams Come True Day) or the coldest day of the year in Great Britain (engl. The Coldest Day of the Year) celebrate.
With this in mind: Have a great St. Knut Day. No matter if in Scandinavia, in Germany or anywhere else in the world.