Trettondagsmarschen is a tune composed by Hjort Anders Olsson, a great fiddler from the village of Bingsjö, in the province of Dalarna.
The title refers to Trettondag Jul, “13th day of Christmas”, known on the Christian calendar as Epiphany, the 6th of January. In the 1500’s Sweden’s king expelled the Catholic Church from Sweden, and installed the government-run Lutheran church in its place. Until the late 20th century, that was still the official state Church, and religious holidays were also civil holidays.
Even today, January 6 is a legal holiday in Sweden.
Hjort Anders was a giant among fiddlers of his time, famous even outside his home areas. Born in 1865, he lived until 1952.
At first he played mainly at dances and weddings, but by middle age was making professional recordings and going on concert tours either alone or with other prominent fiddlers.
He composed Trettondagsmarschen around 1907, and it is now a standard tune played all over Sweden. Here is a YouTube video of some Dalarna fiddlers playing it in the bold style it is usually played.
Bingsjö, though a very small village, is known for its rich fiddle tradition, and hosts Sweden’s largest fiddle festival every year. To the left is a picture of part of the crowd at the festival in 1974. That year there were an estimated 30,000 attendees.