Swedish Tomten’s at Christmas

Christmas in our house has always been filled with Tomten’s. Tomten’s (also known as gnomes) are a our Christmas TomtensSwedish/Scandinavian mythical creature that live on the farms of Swedish folk. They are usually considered good as long as they are respected. If they are not respected, they tend to play tricks on the family members. This was always used as a childhood threat growing up as we were told we better be good or the Tomte would get us.

My grandmother bought each of us grandchildren a copy of Astrid Lindgren’s book The Tomten and her other book, The Tomten and the Fox. These books we read almost every night around Christmas time and they are still a popular book in all of our homes today. Both are beautiful books that depict the Swedish story of the Tomten and what he does at night during his nocturnal visits. Swedish tradition around Christmas was to leave a bowl of porridge out for the Tomte and if it was eating by the next day, all would be well for the farm that year.

When my family visited Sweden a few years back we found the Tomtar and Troll shop, a very well known shop in Stockholm where you can purchase beautifully handmade Trolls and Tomten’s.

Here in Vermont we always celebrated Christmas by displaying our Tomten’s around the farm house. Over the years we had inherited these creatures from our older relatives and when we went to Sweden, we purchased a few of our own to add to the collection. As children, we always knew it was Christmas at our home as well as our grandmothers by the appearance of the Tomen’s and other Swedish decorations. At grandma’s the Tomte magically appeared all over the house overnight which was such a thrill as a kid. In our house we helped place these magical creatures all over the tables and mantels.

This Christmas was no exception as we happily pulled out the box of Tomten’s and have had them up around the house for the last few weeks. A new addition to our Tomten family were two that I made. These are perhaps not the traditional look, but using a general idea an my needle-felting supplies, I created two of these fun creatures!

my homemade needle-felted Tomtens

needle-felted Tomtens

During our Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve, they graced our table and brought back memories of Christmas dinner at grandma’s house. Our Swedish Christmas dinner had us stuffed with Swedish meatballs, boiled potatoes, lingonberry jam, pickled herring in cream sauce, Swedish cardamom bread, and of course Hushallsost (Swedish farmers cheese) which is a family favorite!

Swedish dinner

Swedish meatballs

Swedish cardamom bread

These Tomten’s will always be a family tradition for us and something we look forward to passing down to the next generation.

Merry Christmas from our home to yours!

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4 responses to “Swedish Tomten’s at Christmas”

  1. Eliza Waters says :

    I think your felted Tomten are adorable! It is so good that you are carrying on the Swedish traditions. Traditions are the glue that bind the generations to one another. I have collected quite a few of the Swedish straw ornaments and have a woven straw garland with dangling angels, bells and pine cones that I hang with mistletoe in the center. It wouldn’t be Christmas without it!
    Your cardamom bread looks so delicious, makes me want to make some! Hope your day is joyful!

    • vermontfarmheart says :

      Thank you! I kept two and then sent some to my Swedish family! I have requests already to make more so I guess I know what I’ll be doing with my needle felting supplies! We have many of the Swedish straw ornaments that you are talking about. My favorites are the straw deer that go with a lot of our Tomten’s. I love your idea of hanging mistletoe in the center of the garland! Lovely!

  2. KerryCan says :

    Its so fun to hear about other cultures’ traditions–the Tomtens are very intriguing and the ones you made fit right in!

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