LINDSBORG — Residents of Lindsborg with a Swedish heritage are still celebrating Christmas, with an upcoming holiday tradition known as King Knut Day.

Gretchen Esping, who is a member of Bethany Lutheran Church in Lindsborg, explained in the days of King Knut, Christianity wasn’t a faith that most practiced in Scandinavia, as many were pagan Vikings at the time. King Knut decided to let those who practiced Christianity to have from Dec. 13, St. Lucia Day, until Jan. 13 to celebrate the reign of Jesus Christ. After those 20 days are over, King Knut will reign again.

“Twenty days after Christmas is the time that everybody takes down their Christmas trees and all the candy and cookies that might still be left on the tree and to get all left over Christmas food out of the house. Its the last hurrah,” Esping explained. “When I was a kid, we never took our Christmas tree down until the Jan. 13.”

In the 1960s, Gretchen Esping’s father Malcom, wanted to bring Swedish elements of the holiday tradition to Lindsborg, and now it has become a celebration for many.

"People had live Christmas trees, so volunteers would pick up the Christmas trees here in Lindsborg and stack them down by the river. It had a big sandbar at that time on the south side of the river. Then they would light them and have a big bonfire as a big flurry for the end of Christmas," Esping said. “They do this in Sweden also.”

Bethany Lutheran Church, located at 320 N. Main St. in Lindsborg, will celebrate at noon on Jan. 13 with a meal.

"Some of the people that first started having the potluck was Sammy Train and he had a Christmas tree in the back of his pickup truck rigged up with the lights would be on and he went around and picked up the Christmas trees and he decided we should have a potluck meal after to finish off Christmas," Esping explained.

Volunteers gather at Bethany Lutheran Church to take down Christmas decorations and to get rid of left over Christmas food.

"We just have a nice meal together and some may still have turkey or ham in the freezer. It's just the very end of Christmas and the last chance to have a party," Esping said.

For more information, call 785-227-2167 or visit the church website at http://blclindsborg.org.

Contact Brooke Haas by email at bhaas@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.