Tomte. Image by John Bauer



Tomte

The Swedish word "tomten" is a shorter word for tomtenisse, tomtegubbe etc. In English I think the name is "Brownie".
One thing that can be a bit confusing is that we in Sweden call "Santa Claus" - Jultomte! But the being "tomte" has nothing at ALL to do with Santa Claus...

These days there aren't many tomten left. There is a simple explanation for that - there aren't many farms left! And that is where the tomten lives. He really hates cities and too many humans beings!

He lives at the hayloft in a cozy little corner and looks after the farm, the animals that talk to him in "tomten language".

Tomten does not show himself very often. Sometimes you can catch a glimpse of him in the dark areas of the stable or barn.
He is small, about the size of a six or seven year old boy. Usually the tomten has a long gray or snowy beard and his face is old and wrinkled.
Most of the time he is wearing gray clothes made of frieze and on his head he has a pointed cap. Usually red. The red cap on a tomten existed in Swedish folktales hundreds of years before "jultomten" (Santa Claus) came into the Swedish tradition.

You have to be nice to your farm-tomte! Then he will help you bake, carry your chopped wood, groom the horses, clean out the stable and spread the manure on the fields.
And at Christmas you reward your helper by giving him a big plate of porridge with butter.

But sometimes you can be TOO nice to the farmtomten! For example, if you give him nice new clothes for Christmas he might think that he is SO good-looking that he doesn't want to get dirty at all!

A tomten has no humor, so you better be careful. Never ever make fun of him because he is small and not very strong. Then the luck of your farm is gone and the tomten has moved to your neighbor's farm!


And now a true story...
My Grandmother that was born 1894, in the north of Sweden, has told me that she saw the tomten at their small farm when she was a child. Several times when my grandmother and her sisters came into the stable the horses' manes were braided and taken cared of. She then knew that the Tomten took good care of the horses.
Wonderful isn't it? :-)


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Image by John Bauer .
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