Swedes love Christmas, so much so that their traditional observance of the holiday lasts 20 days.

But when they're through with it, the tree literally gets tossed out the door.

For the 48th consecutive year, the Scandinavian Club, housed in its current quarters on South Pine Creek Road since 1986, marked the end of the Christmas season with a traditional celebration unique to their culture.

Activities included singing holiday songs -- both in English and Swedish -- instrumental performances, storytelling, dancing around a Christmas tree, and, finally, plundering the tree of candies before carrying it outside.

"We call this our Tjugondag Knut celebration, or Knut's Day, which translates to 20 days after Christmas when we throw the tree out," said Linda Gustavson, president of the Northern Lights singing troupe.

The group was one of three that performed holiday music at the celebration, along with the North Star Singers and the Apollo Singing Society. "This is a centuries-old tradition, signifying the end of the Christmas holiday."

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The event, which included a feast of Swedish foods on a long buffet table, was attended by members of the Swedish community and their friends, most of whom wore festive red sweaters and clothing.

"It's a happy time because we know Christmas will come again, at least that's how the adults view it," Gustavson said. "The children might miss the holiday, but then they get to plunder the tree."

With regard to the traditional Swedish celebration of Christmas and how the greater community observes the holiday, Gustavson said there is a definite difference.

"Most people stop singing Christmas carols around New Year's, but the Swedes keep the holiday alive for 20 days," she said.

Besides the adult singers, children from the Swedish School, operated through the Scandinavian Club, also performed songs for the occasion.

"A requirement of membership (in the school) is that students must have a Swedish parent," Gustavson said. "They learn the Swedish language, history, culture, music and more."

Jenny Pace, whose son Max is enrolled in the school, said, "This is a nice way to expose our children growing up in America to Swedish traditions.

"You want them to identify with their culture. We try to take them to Sweden often, too, so they are aware of the differences between Sweden and America. It helps us parents to stay connected with our traditions, as well."