When does Christmas actually end? For a lot of commercial Christmas radio stations, the end of the Christmas period is as early as the evening of Christmas day! While people are playing with their presents, radio stations will already be switching over to regular programming as if nothing was special about the night. Others switch on boxing day, still others on the stroke of midnight at new year’s.
More traditionally, there’s the concept of the twelve days of Christmas, by which Christmas ends with Epiphany, the thirteenth day, on the 6th of January, leaving nearly two weeks of contemplative rest in the fallow season for the tired farmer. In much of Scandinavia, however, Christmas ends today, the 13th of January, twenty days after Christmas, on the feast day of Saint Canute Lavard. The reason why is complicated, but involves a 17th-century move of Canute’s day from the day after epiphany (which was the first workday of the new season) to a week later, and the concept of the end of Christmas moving with it. Why the move was made is still debated among historians. On Saint Canute’s Day, the Christmas tree in thrown out, the last candies are eaten, and in some remote Swedish communities facinating carnivals with strange papier-mache masks are held.
(That’s not the latest, however. In some countries, decorations are not taken down until Candlemas, a full 40 days after Christmas!)
For us here at Records.Christmas, run out of Sweden, St Canute’s day is the day when we’re closing down for the season. But we’ll be back this fall, in November, with much more Christmas music, many new features and new idea for the coming year. Hope to see you then!