The Swedish Tomte: Scandinavian Folklore

Lennart Helje

Last weekend I took a lovely trip to Fargo with my Mom to go shopping. Our first stop was Stabo Scandinavian Imports to get our fill of all things Swedish. I couldn’t help but notice all of the Tomte decorations and gifts for sale and it made me want to learn more about these little guys.
Lennart Helje (born 1940)

I first heard about the Tomte from my grandma around Christmas time. He is a little creature from Scandinavian folklore that is usually associated around the winter solstice and Christmas. I always thought of the Tomte as similar to a gnome as he is only 3 feet tall with a white beard and red cap. To Scandinavians he is like Santa Clause and is the bearer of gifts.

The Tomte often takes up residence at a family farm living in the home and helping with chores and protecting the children and animals. Like the faeries he can have a temper if not treated fairly and can play tricks and cause mischief to the family. A bowl of porridge is commonly left behind from those who believe in the Tomte. This also is a nice gesture to let the Tomte know he is welcome.

During Christmas time you will often see little gnome like ornaments with red hats and beards hanging around the Christmas tree as decorations. I’ve collected a few over the years and Tomtar are always welcome in my home.

There is a lot of beautiful Tomte artwork and I’ve included some Pinterest boards for you to see the many varieties and imaginings of the Tomte in other Scandinavian countries.

Swedish Tomte – Pinterest Board

Tomte Ornaments and Crafts – Pinterest Board

I have been researching them to bits that I came across these 2 lovely books Adapted by Astrid Lindgren. The Tomten and the Tomten and the Fox. The illustrations are beautiful and I thought they’d make a great book to have out at Christmas time. You can find them for sale at the Book Depository. When I get them in the mail I’ll have to do a little review. Stay tuned!

The Tomten and the Fox - Adapted By Astrid Lindgren

The Tomten - Adapted By Astrid Lindgren

The Forest Fairy is all about exploring nature, going on adventures and crafting memories.

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