Christmas in Norway: The Julenisse
The traditions and lore surrounding the Julenisse, or Christmas elf, can also be traced back to ancient times. Unlike many old Norwegian Christmas traditions, however, the Julenisse lives on in contemporary folklore and customs. Some folklorists suspect that the Julenisse evolved from ancient beliefs in ancestral spirits who visited their old homesteads at Christmas time. Contemporary lore teaches that the Julenisse lives in dark corners of Norwegian homes. For most of the year this magical being dozes and dreams, although when awake he keeps a watchful eye on household doings. The Julenisse becomes more active around Christmas time. Then he will use his magical powers to cause household mishaps if not appeased with a bowl of porridge. Like his Swedish cousin, the Jultomten, the Norwegian Julenisse brings the family’s Christmas gifts.