Christmas trees brutally butchered in Sweden

American writer Steven Karwoski

American writer Steven Karwoski

When Christmas is over in Sweden
Christmas is OVER!

In Sweden, Christmas officially ends on January 13th known as St. Knut Day or simply the 20th day after Christmas.

On this day the Christmas tree, traditionally trimmed with cookies and sweets, is eaten or plundered then danced out of the home.

In the four years I’ve lived in Sweden I’ve seen lots of strange things but I have never seen a tree danced out of a home.

I, myself, have been known to dance with inanimate objects at parties Christmas or other. I’ve danced into Christmas trees, fallen over them, knocked the ornaments out of them but never in all my years of holiday frolicking have I ever danced a tree out of a home.

The 13th of January may officially end the Swedish Christmas season but it really begins to wind down soon after Christmas day.

U.S. cities offer various ways to dispose of Christmas trees. San Francisco, for instance, appoints a day or two for tree collection. One year a friend in San Francisco began to document this, posting images on facebook of discarded trees in various different forms some full of needles, others dry as bone, some still with ornaments dangling. He then encouraged others to post images as well.

So began my search for discarded Christmas trees in Sweden. I then started to notice Christmas trees brutally butchered, each branch hacked off and the trunk left leaning against our trash bins like corpses after a battle.

So I ask my wife, “Kajsa, do our neighbors hate trees? 

Are they mentally unstable?

or Is this a Nordic pagan cult thing ?”

“Oh Steven that’s the way we do it. In Sweden we don’t just throw trees out. You have to cut all the branches off then put it out.”    She explained this like an adult explaining renewable energy to child.

Like most things an outsider might find odd or even disturbing about Sweden there often exists historical and cultural explanation for most of it. 

When Sweden transitioned from a pagan society to a Christian one, they traded their ancient nature worshiping traditions and embraced Christian ones like the ritualistic dragging of a tree into the home to decorate it in tribute to Christ’s birth.

In 1870 churches in Sweden began to light candles in Christmas trees to commemorate each Sunday of Advent.

In their report, Yearbook of Housing and Building Statistics 2012, Statistics Sweden claims forty four percent of Swedes live in apartment buildings.

By the 1930s apartment buildings had trash disposal shoots on every floor.

So you must be able to fit your tree into the small trash chute.

Standard trash chute installed in apartments in Sweden after the 1930s.

Standard trash chute installed in apartments in Sweden after the 1930s.

Naturally, therefore, you would cut your tree down, bundling it into small manageable parcels fitting them into the small circular trash chute, piece by piece, by piece.

Steven Karwoski hacksaws off the branches of his Christmas tree

Steven Karwoski hacksaws off the branches of his Christmas tree


This brutal assault against Christmas leaves a tremendous mess.

My wife defends the process as more efficient and clean. Dragging a dead tree through the house leaves a trail of needles true, but try disassembling a tree in your living room.

As you sever off each branch with a small ax, X-ACTO blade, saw, or even a serrated bread knife the ring of fallen dead needles grow until you are left encircled by the equivalent of the Christmas tree’s pool of blood. 

I suppose this offers the efficient element, as it is easier to vacuum up a concentrated amount of needles then follow the trail of needles to the front door with the vacuum.


In Sweden the symbol of Christmas is hacked up, shoved in small parcels, discreetly dropped down the trash shoot then the remaining trunk left out in the cold with the other holiday victims to be collected later and then compressed into particle board to make inexpensive furniture.

When Christmas is over in Sweden Christmas is OVER!

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