Swedish word of the day: julgransplundring

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards - [email protected]
Swedish word of the day: julgransplundring
January 13th marks the end of the Swedish Christmas season. Image: nito103/Depositphotos"

The word 'julgransplundring' introduces you to one of Sweden's surprising winter traditions.


January 13th is officially the 20th and final day of Swedish Christmas. 

It's traditionally marked with the julgransplundring or 'Christmas Tree plundering', which marks the end of the festive season. Alternative names are julgransskakning (literally 'Christmas tree shaking) or Knutsfest (St Knut's Day). Read more about the history of the date in the article below:

The celebrations, which have remained mostly the same since the late 1800s, typically start with a last dance around the tree, perhaps with a song, before removing the decorations.

That means that if you've had the willpower to make them last this long, it's finally time to eat the chocolate decorations and candy canes from the tree, and to smash and eat any gingerbread houses.

There are usually a few games and songs, especially 1901 favourite Raska fötter springa tripp, tripp, tripp (quick footsteps running, tap tap tap) which is about the end of the holiday season.

Then, the tree is taken away.

In centuries gone by, Swedes would toss them straight out of the window onto the street, but it's important to note that this messy and not so environmentally-friendly technique isn't the done thing any more. Instead, you should take them to the designated area in your local authority. If in doubt, check with your landlord or the head of your tenant-owners association (BRF).

Didn't have your own tree this year, or have a fake one that just needs to be put into storage? There still might be a chance to join in with the song and dance at a public julgransplundring, for example at Stockholm's Nordic Museum which hosts them each year, or at the Christmas trees located in some town squares.

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