Saint Knut's Day

Saint Knut's Day
Knut Lavard.jpg
Canute Lavard
Also called tjugondag jul, tjugondag Knut, knutmasso
Observed by Sweden, Finland, Estonia
Date 13 January
Frequency annual

Saint Knut's Day[1] (Swedish: tjugondag jul, lit.'twentieth-day Yule'; tjugondag Knut, lit.'twentieth-day Knut'; or knutmasso;[2] Finnish: nuutinpäivä, lit.'Knut's Day'), or the Feast of Saint Knut, is a traditional festival celebrated in Sweden and Finland on 13 January. It is not celebrated on this date in Denmark (the Knut day was moved in Sweden, not in Denmark) despite being named for the Danish prince Canute Lavard, and later also associated with his uncle, Canute the Saint, the patron saint of Denmark.[3][4][5] Christmas trees are taken down on tjugondag jul, and the candies and cookies that decorated the tree are eaten. In Sweden, the feast held during this event is called a Knut's party (julgransplundring, literally "Christmas tree plundering").[6]


Canute Lavard (Knut Levard in Swedish) was a Danish duke who was assassinated by his cousin and rival Magnus Nilsson on 7 January 1131 so he could usurp the Danish throne.[7][8] In the aftermath of his death there was a civil war, which led to Knut being later declared a saint, and 7 January became Knut's Day, a name day.[3]

As his name day roughly coincided with Epiphany (the "thirteenth day of Christmas"), Knut's Day and Epiphany were conflated to some degree. In 1680, Knut's Day was moved to 13 January and became known as tjugondag Knut or tjugondedag jul (the "twentieth day of Knut/Christmas").[8]


On nuutinpäivä, a tradition has been observed which is somewhat analogous to the modern Santa Claus, where young men dressed as goats (Finnish: nuuttipukki) would visit houses. Usually the dress was an inverted fur jacket, a leather or birch bark mask, and horns. Unlike Santa Claus, nuuttipukki was a scary character (cf. Krampus). The men dressed as Nuuttipukki wandered from house to house, came in, and typically demanded food from the household and especially leftover alcoholic beverages. Unless Nuuttipukki received a salary from the host, he committed evil deeds.[9] A dialectical proverb from Noormarkku says: Hyvä Tuomas joulun tua, paha Knuuti poijes viä or "Good [St.] Thomas brings Christmas, evil Knut takes [it] away."[10]

In Finland the Nuuttipukki tradition is still kept alive in areas of Satakunta, Southwest Finland and Ostrobothnia. However, nowadays the character is usually played by children and now involves a happy encounter.[11]


In Sweden St. Knut's Day marks the end of the Christmas and holiday season. It is celebrated by taking out the Christmas tree and dancing around it. Nowadays, the feast is mainly for children.[6]


  1. ^ "St. Knut's Day definition of St. Knut's Day in the Free Online Encyclopedia". Retrieved 13 January 2014.
  2. ^ Karlsson, Kenneth. "Knut Photos". Knutmasso Museum. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Tjugondag Knut" [St. Knut's Day]. Nordic Museum. 2013-02-26. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  4. ^ Henrikson, Alf (2013). Svensk Historia [Swedish History] (in Swedish). Albert Bonniers Förlag. ISBN 978-9100136567.
  5. ^ "Knut kör julen ut" [Knut drives out Christmas]. FiraJul. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  6. ^ a b "Julgransplundring: Rocking around the Christmas Tree". Your Living City. 3 January 2014. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  7. ^ Bricka, Carl Frederik (1897). Dansk Biografisk Lexikon. XI. Maar – Müllner. p. 45.
  8. ^ a b af Klintberg, Bengt (2001). Namnen i almanackan [The Names of the Calendar] (in Swedish) (1 ed.). Stockholm: Norstedts ordbok. ISBN 91-7227-292-9. SELIBR 8372769.
  9. ^ YLE: Nuutinpäivä korjaa joulun pois (in Finnish)
  10. ^ "Nuuttipukin naamari". 27 September 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
  11. ^ "Satakunnan Kansa". 13 January 2011. Archived from the original on 13 January 2014. Retrieved 13 January 2014.