St. Knut’s Day is a holiday celebrated in Sweden, Finland and Norway, on January 13th. The day is called Tjugondag Knut in Sweden, which means 20th day Knut. In Norway it’s called Tyvendedagen, which I believe, is 20th day.
On St. Knut’s Day, they say they “plunder” the Christmas tree. If there are edible ornaments on the tree, they eat them. If there weren’t any on the tree, sometimes they’ll put them there for the kids to take off and eat. It’s an incentive to take off all the other decorations and get rid of the tree. Then kids dance around the tree singing.
In Sweden they sing…
Tjugondag Knut dansas julen ut. (Swedish)
Knut’s 20th day (St. Knut’s Day) dances Christmas away. (English)
Sometimes it’ll be longer…
På Tjugondag Knut dansas julen ut och då plundras och kasseras granen. (Swedish)
At St. Knut’s day, dance Christmas away and then plunder and scrap the spruce tree. (English)
After which, they either throw out the tree, or chop it up and use it as fire wood.
In Norway, they say a similar rhyme…
Sante Knut og jaga jula ut. (Norwegian)
St. Knut chases Christmas away. (English)
Sometimes there are also carnivals for St. Knut’s day.
A little history behind the holiday…
King Canute (circa 994 – 1035) was a Viking who was also known as Knut and Knud. He was king of England, Denmark, and for a while Norway and part of Sweden.
Early on, when he took over England, he was merciless to prisoners, he cut off their noses, ears and hands. Later, he repented for what he had done. To make up for his cruelty, he joined the church and tried to create peace and justice in his land. Under his rule, there was peace for 18 years. (Although, he may have been responsible for some political murders. )
One of the laws he made, while he was king, was that the Christmas season would last 20 days, and that no one should fast during that time. Thus the holiday season would end on January 13th. That’s the day that’s come to be known as St. Knut’s Day.
If anyone knows any other St. Knut’s Day songs, rhymes or traditions, please comment below.
Happy St. Knut’s Day!
This article was posted on Thursday, January 12th, 2006 at 6:52 pm and is filed under Countries & Cultures, Denmark, Finland, Holiday Songs, Holidays Around the World, Languages, Norway, Norwegian, Norwegian Nursery Rhymes, St. Knut's Day - Tjugondag Knut, St. Knut's Day Songs, Sweden, Swedish, Swedish Children's Songs, Swedish Nursery Rhymes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
10 Responses to “St. Knut’s Day means it’s time to Have a Party and Throw out your Christmas Tree!”
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February 28th, 2006 at 8:59 am
Hi I was interested in the history of this holiday as my family celebrates it in the United States. I had great aunts whose parents came from Sweden. We traditionally decorate a small tree on this day, the kids in the family sit on the table and decorate the tree and when this is accomplished we dance around the tree holding hands and singing. After this is completed our family sits around the living room and santa hides a box of presents for the family. Each person gets a gift. There is a twist, to get your present first poems are read about each person, everyone has to guess who the poem is about, then the person gets their gift. We have a big dinner and basically hang out with the family. We are one of the only families from this area that celebrates this. It is nice to know the history now.
February 28th, 2006 at 11:21 am
That sounds like fun!
Do you sing any Swedish songs for St. Knut’s Day?
January 2nd, 2007 at 2:10 pm
There is one song that is sung on Knut:
Nu är glada julen slut,slut,slut.
Julegranen bäres ut ,ut,ut.
Men till nästa jul igen,
kommer han vår gamle vän,
för det har han lovat.
Now is the merry christmas over, over over
The christmas tree is carried out, out, out
But for next christmas again
he is coming our old friend
because he has promised that.
Knut was/is a rather festive day. At least up until 50 years ago. Children liked it a lot as the tree was often decorated with candy (candy canes, sugar decorations and smällkarameller/crackers with hidden bits of candy). All christmas they had to look at these sweets without eating it, but on Knut all decorations was taken down and the candy could be eaten. That is called julgransplundring (christmas tree looting).
As we no longer have much candy in the trees and few people want to eat old candy, it’s not as big as it used to be. Some still see it as a festive day and invite kids over for a kids party were they hand out candy. There are also some different local traditions.
January 7th, 2009 at 6:29 pm
There are five verses to this song, with words by Sigrid Sköldberg-Pettersson and music by Emmy Köhler.
Raska fötter springa tripp, tripp, tripp!
Mamma har så bråttom klipp, klipp, klipp!
Juleklappar lackas in.
Dörren stängs för näsan din.
Det är bara roligt.
Pappa har gått ut på stan, stan, stan,
köper där en präktig gran, gran, gran.
Den skall hängas riktigt full,
först en stjärna utav gull,
nötter sen och äpplen.
Se nu är ju allting klart, klart, klart.
Barnen rusar in med fart, fart, fart.
Vem står där i pappas rock?
Jo, det är vår julebock.
Han har säkert klappar.
Alla barnen ropa: Ack, ack, ack!
Snälla rara pappa tack, tack, tack!
Margit får en docka stor.
Gungehäst får lillebror.
Stina får en kälke.
Snart är glada julen slut, slut, slut.
Julegranen bäres ut, ut, ut.
Men till nästa år igen
kommer han, vår gamle vän,
ty det har han lovat.
January 7th, 2009 at 6:34 pm
Thanks! Could anyone provide an English translation – please!
January 11th, 2010 at 4:34 am
You’ll find both Svenska and Engelsk here:
January 11th, 2010 at 9:29 am
Thanks Blair! If anyone would like to provide their own English translation here… that would be wonderful!
January 13th, 2017 at 10:52 am
Does anyone have the music for the Knute song? I would like to sing it but I can’t find the tune.
December 7th, 2017 at 9:00 pm
[…] celebrations end with St. Knut’s Day on January […]
December 24th, 2022 at 11:16 pm
My father-in-law, who was born in Minnesota in 1914, and was of Swedish heritage, shared with me that when he was a child growing up in far northwestern Minnesota, his family celebrated Tjugondag Knut every year. He said that the 20 days of Christmas was used to rest from any work (to the extent possible) and just enjoy visiting with family and neighbors. The women weren’t in the kitchen making elaborate meals (they’d probably done this earlier), deep cleaning, nor mending, and men were doing just the essential chores – like bringing in wood which had been chopped earlier. The work horses were given time off, as well, and the family travelled by sleigh pulled by saddle horses. Talking, visiting, eating with family and friends was done each day until January 13th. He said that on that day, all of the family & friends in the community would gather at the village hall, grange hall, or whatever the community building was called, to eat, sing and dance through the night. The candy on Christmas tree at that location was plundered by the children, then hauled outside and burned. He said that many children fell asleep on the floor along the walls and were eventually loaded back up in their family’s sleigh. There was actually a box of some sort of metal which held hot coals and rocks in the front floor of the sleigh, and then the family was covered with bear blankets to contain the heat and keep the passengers warm for the ride home. My father-in-law had very fond memories of this tradition.