Forget “Elf on the Shelf”! Check out this Scandinavian elf that watches over our household and land, visiting with the animals and bringing good fortune to people who know how to treat him right. Most cultures in the northern countries have customs and traditions to deal with the long, dark, cold winters. At Seven Trees Farm, we like to explore and share them, hopefully inspiring others to learn more about their own cultural history that isn’t sold in stores or taught in schools.
As winter comes and winter goes, so do many of the traditions that were kept by our ancestors.
My grandmother was from Sweden. In Sweden as well as in other Scandinavian countries, it was important to take care of the small being that watched over your home or farm known as the Tomte, particularly at this time of year. Many believed that the Tomte was the spirit of the farm’s first settler, and it was important not to disrespect them, especially at Yule time or Christmas.
The Swedish name Tomte stems from a place of residence, the house lot or “tomt”.
Tomte are often described as small grey bearded men, half the size or even smaller than that of a normal person. Tradition states they dressed as a farmer, but in many depictions they look a bit like an elf or a gnome.
Image Source: The Tomten Poster
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