What's a tomte?

The most important question in Scandinavia is: “Who plays the most important role at Christmas?”

In Scandinavia, the gnomes play a very important role at Christmas. And do you know that the American stories about Santa Claus are based on these gnomes?

In Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, the gnomes are called “tomte” and “nisse”.

Why are there actually gnomes and what do they carry out the very actual days?


From tradition we know that the gnomes Nisse (r), Tomte, Tonttu, so many languages names, never grew longer than a hundred centimeters. Nisse and Tomte are always dressed in worn clothes and you can recognize them by the long white beard. And you'll never run into Nisse and Tomte without a brightly coloured (usually red) hat on their heads. In the Netherlands we say that Tomte and Nisse look like our garden gnomes, but a bit different.

Do you know that Tomte or Nisse are the guardians of the farm? And not only the protectors of the farm, but they are also the protectors of all the buildings on the farm. If you're looking for Tomte, it's best to look in the kitchen, because that's where he lives. If Tomte is not in the kitchen, he can be found in the pantry or the stable. After all, Tomte ensures that the people and animals on the farm are safe.


Make a Scandinavian leprechaun yourself?

Source illustrations: Noos Happy Words

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