January 13 is St Knut’s Day, celebrated across Scandinavia as the day to take down your Christmas tree. The Finns have a long tradition of marking the day with processions and begging visits. In an effort to understand these more fully I consulted a Finnish-language site and translated what I found there. I hope you are as illuminated by the results as I was:
Nuttin Day (January 13) finally ended the Christmas holiday season. For weeks, food and drink had been enjoyed and visiting corpses and holders were remembered. The holy time ended with a joyful and noisy feast, after which the rye could be carried back to the barn and other daily work began.
In folklore, Nuutti has meant the day after Epiphany, the seventh of January. The day was not moved to its current location on the calendar until January 13, until the early 18th century. Many of Nuut’s customs and sayings related to the end of Christmas actually belong to the day after Epiphany.
The Nuuttipuk tradition has continued alive in Finland until the last wars. At the heart of the procession of yeast or weevils were strangely dressed men or women. The dresses had the skin of a goat or sheep on their heads, their faces covered with leather or a masked face, or blackened. There was a long beard in his chin. The jacket on the stand could be leather upside down or a jacket made of straw braids. Some had in their hands a rod with a wet scepter at their head to swing people.
The nuts went from house to house, singing greetings and asking: Is there any yeast left? The peasants had to endure the buck with food and food. If the sahti was over, the goats took the pegs out of the beer kegs and sang mocking songs. In northern Finland, poor houses were also carried inside. However, if entertainment was received, the goats gave thanks and sang. The peasants responded to the costumes with their own songs.
People along the way joined the crowd passing from house to house. The procession marked on the door or aft wall of each house that the house had paid its “tax”. If the entertainment had been plentiful, as many pictures of the branch as had been offered in the house were drawn on the wall. The drawing was allowed to be in place all winter to witness the wealth and hospitality of the house.
The food and drinks collected by the buck could be gathered in one house that had been chosen to host the last games and dances of the Christmas season. The people of the village arrived there in the evening together to eat, drink and thus say goodbye during Christmas. The parties played, danced and made noise. At the end of the celebration, Christmas straws were carried out of the house.