Swedish Tomten’s at Christmas
Christmas in our house has always been filled with Tomten’s. Tomten’s (also known as gnomes) are a Swedish/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!
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!
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!