With Christmas approximately four weeks away, “take a breaks” will focus on Scandinavian holidays. This week is all about creating a Tomtem garland.
Tomte are Swedish gnome like creatures who are responsible for the protection and welfare of the home and farm. Often described as an older, little man about the size of a young child, he wears old often ragged clothes, usually gray or navy, and sports a bright red cap on his head. Residing in the pantry or barn, he watches over the household and farm and is responsible for the care of the farm animals, especially the horses. The tomte has an enormous capacity for work but will not tolerate anyone’s interference. It is believed that a clean and orderly home or farm is an indication that this domestic sprite resides there.
The Norwegians have a similar character named nisse.
Tomtar and nisser require very little of the humans they work for. They demand only the respect and trust of the farmer and a bowl of julegrøt (Christmas porridge) with butter on Christmas Eve. These spirits will not remain in a home where respect is lacking and thus the farm will not thrive and the farmer will be reduced to poverty.
The present day version of the julenisse is very different form the legends of the domestic tomte or nisse. The julenisse is portrayed as an older, good natured, adult-sized man (not surprisingly the size of an uncle or father) with a long white beard and a red hat and suit. He carries a sack of toys on his back, visits children in their homes on Christmas Eve and always asks, “Are there any good children here?” (“Er det noen snille barn her?”) Many Scandinavian children also believe he lives at the North Pole where he has a workshop.
Learn more about the Legend of the Nisse and Tomte.
Make a Tomtem Garland out of red and white triangles and a circle for the face. Click here for directions. This is a good project to do with kids.
Not interested in today’s activities, try the Take a Break Pinterest Board.