Friday, January 9, 2009

Twelfth Night or What You Will

Would the play by any other name be as sweet? How about 'The Thirteenth Day'? Here in Sweden there is no such thing as Twelfth Night. There is instead a Thirteenth Day. And the Thirteenth Day Eve is the night of fancy balls at the fancy castles and hotel ballrooms around the country.

And it isn't until a little day they call 'the twentieth knut' (Jan. 13th, twenty days after Christmas and the name day of all Knuts) that Christmas is officially over. Then the Christmas tree can be plundered and it and all the myriad of decorations and ornaments and red decorating details are tossed out until November 29th, 2009. Most Swedes I know are ready with advent candles, mulled wine and gingerbread cookies for this day, the first advent of Christmas.

With some swift calculation that adds up to about 7 1/2 weeks of Christmas (!) and even more if you consider all the Christmas markets and unveiling of the town square and storefront decorations that start the weekend prior to the first advent.

Our Christmas tree is one of the few lucky ones that won't be hacked to bits in order to fit into the neighborhood garden recycling bin. This year we opted for a living tree, a four foot high Nordmann Fir (Kungsgran in Swedish and a.k.a. Picea Nordmannia) with its roots still on. Hopefully it will grow slowly and be our Christmas tree for a few years, on the terrace in a giant pot, until we decide where to plant it permanently. Bon courage!

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