Saturday, December 21, 2013

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year From The Canyon

In the past, I wrote posts about Swedish yuletide traditions this time of year. Today, I want to tell you about someone special in Swedish folklore instead, the tomte. He is in some ways similar to Santa, but he is also very different. This is his story, which I first told in the 2012 A to Z:

This plate shows a tomte taking care of the farmer's horse.

In olden days on each farm in Sweden, there lived a tomte. He was thought to be a small being, smaller than a person, and was usually old with a white beard. He lived under the house or in the barn and avoided human beings for the most part. His duty on the farm was to bring good luck to the farmer and to make sure that the humans treated their animals well. He was sometimes thought to be a ghost of the man who began farming the land where the present farm family lived. 

This is my little tomte looking after our ranch. 

The tomte was known for his bad temper and would retaliate if the farmer didn't respect him or didn't treat his animals well. Therefore, it was very important for the farm family to be nice to the tomte. One way to be nice was to feed him grot (porridge). The tomte was particularly fond of rice porridge, which had to be served with a large pat of butter. If you forgot the butter, you would be in trouble. That was a well-known fact. 

In the book The Wonderful Adventures of Nils Holgersson above, by Swedish author Selma Lagerlof, it's the farm tomte who gets fed up with the farmer's mean-spirited son, Nils Holgersson, and turns him into a small elf, in order to teach him a lesson. Then Nils sets out on his wonderful adventures, riding with the wild geese as the migrate over Sweden. In the end, he learns many important lessons and is returned to boy status and statue by the tomte.

My grandfather made this tomte.  My most loved possession. 

When St. Nickolaus and Santa Claus appeared later, the Swedish version, jultomten, took some of his characteristics from the tomte of old and some from the more modern Santa Claus.

A family of tomtar are a part of my Christmas decorations.

On Christmas Eve, when I was a child, jultomten would come slowly through the deep snow in our garden, carrying a big burlap sack over his shoulder. He would knock on our door and ask: "Do any good children live here?" "Yes, yes, we've been good, we've been good all year long," we would scream and rush to greet him. Then jultomten sat down and distributed all the wonderful Christmas presents. And we never wondered why our grandfather suddenly had disappeared at this most crucial time of the evening.


I will take off from blogging for a couple of weeks. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season. 

Samson Says: Where do you guys live? In my house, they'd know who did it, even if I didn't do it. That's just how they are.....

Happy Holidays Everyone!


  1. samson, you're right. :)

    i remember the tomte from years prior. very cool tradition.

    i hope you all have a great holiday season - make it restful and joyous.

  2. Very cute .
    Happy Holidays to you and yours Inger !
    Big Hug Samson ~
    from all of us critters at Whimsy Willows Farm

  3. I LOVE the expression on Samson's face!! Happy Holidays to you & yours, Inger!!

  4. So glad I came across your blog. When I first saw the tomte I thought it was a gnome. Happy to know the tradition. Enjoy your break from blogging. While you're relaxing I'll read your older posts. Happy Holidays! -- Jan

  5. So glad I came across your blog. When I first saw the tomte I thought it was a gnome. Happy to know the tradition. Enjoy your break from blogging. While you're relaxing I'll read your older posts. Happy Holidays! -- Jan

  6. I remember this little guy, Inger and seeing Samson, makes it even better,...:)JP

  7. And to you. Loved hearing about the tomte.

  8. Happy Christmas Inger and Hubby and all the sweet critters there in Desert Canyon!

    My Swedish tomte (he sits on a log, with his walking cane!) right now is sitting on the window ledge above the toilet in the downstairs bathroom - he makes sure the men put the seat down ;)...


  9. Merry Christmas to you and your family, Inger! Relax and enjoy your time off blogging. Gracie says: SAMSON! LOOKING GOOD! REMEMBER, MY HEART BELONGS TO YOU!!

    Much Love to you and wishes for a safe, healthy and happy Christmas and new year!

  10. I love the tomtar of old lore!

    Wishing you all a wonderful jul!

  11. Merry Christmas, Inger.. have a wonderful blog break and see you in the new year. i love this story and about your grandfather and also those precious tomte you treasure...especially the ornaments.

  12. Love your holiday traditions and decor! Wonderful picture of your pup Samson:) Happy Holidays!

  13. Önskar dig en God Jul och ett Gott Nytt År!
    Varma kramar Majsan//

  14. What a wonderful tradition Inger.
    Here's to a wonderful Christmas to you and yours. See you in 2014!!

  15. I love your Christmas decorations - all red and white - so pretty.
    Love Samson.
    Merry Christmas,

  16. What wonderful traditions! I especially like the tomte that your grandfather made for you. I understand why it's so precious to you.

    A very Merry Christmas to you and your family, and all the best in the new year.

  17. Thanks for the explanation of the tradition. Lots of fun for everyone!

    Hope you all have a great Christmas and a wonderful 2014!

  18. Very familiar to us Inger. Today we made korv!

  19. Happy Christmas, Inger and Samson!


  20. Beautiful tradition!
    Merry Christmas and a Wonderful New Year!
    Sending kisses to Samson!

  21. Enjoy your restful holiday. Samson has quite the expressive face!

  22. Merry Christmas, Inger! I enjoy hearing about your Swedish traditions. See you in 2014!

  23. It's interesting how similar stories travel the world. I've heard similar tales from Ireland. Happy Christmas and let's drink to a healthy and happy new year... and hugs to Samson x

  24. Merry♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸✰¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ Christmas♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸✰¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪Merry ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸✰¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪Christmas ☆☆☆And¸¸✰¸¸ a ¸¸✰¸¸Happy ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸✰¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪New¸¸✰¸¸ Year


  25. Tomte? Thank you for introducing me. I REALLY Like this story.

    Enjoy your personal time.
    Happy New Year to YOU!!!

  26. Thanks for sharing your traditions. It is so nice to understand other cultures.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family. I am sure Samson you must have been extra nice for Santa.

  27. Merry Christmas love the tomte's I have some I made myself finding the patterns on the net.
    Have the best new year. Nan

  28. Dear Inger, the tomte is so interesting to me. Someone to protect animals and to ensure that the farmer and his/her family treat them well. I suspect you are truly a tomte yourself. Think of the dogs and the donkeys you've protected and cared for and loved.

    I'm going to look on the library web site for the book you mentioned and if the library doesn't have it, I'll look at Amazon because I so love children's stories that involve travel and change. Peace.


Thanks for leaving a comment.. ~~ Inger


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